Rob Ford marks the first anniversary of his election with news that he’s only the second-least popular mayor in the country
A new poll finds that Hazel McCallion, she of the conflict-of-interest fame, is Canada’s most popular mayor, while Rob Ford sits in second-to-last place (a cruel gift from the folks at Forum Research Inc. on the same week of the anniversary of his election victory). Because Gérald Tremblay is the only mayor less popular than Ford, we’re tempted to suggest that only a major scandal could knock Ford down any further—but hey, look how things worked out for Hazel.
The Toronto Star has the details:
Ford’s rating varied across Toronto. His highest ratings, 42 per cent, were from North York and Scarborough, while his lowest, 30 per cent, was from Toronto-East York.
Residents were also asked if they intend to re-elect their sitting mayor in the next municipal election. McCallion, [Calgary’s Naheed] Nenshi and [Quebec City’s Regis] Labeaume were given thumbs up with more than 50 per cent supporting their re-election. In Ford’s case, fewer than one in three surveyed residents want to see him in office another term.
Perhaps the most troubling result for Ford is his steady, steep decline. In February, he had a 60 per cent approval rating. In June, it was 57 and in September it was 42.
Of course, we assume Ford is still holding on to his staunchest supporters. Remember when donations to his mayoral campaign actually spiked every time a major scandal broke? And after Ford managed to push garbage privatization through, even while councillors complained that they didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision, it seems he still has support for parts of his agenda, if not for the way he gets things done.
Then again, Ford hasn’t exactly run a political gauntlet as mayor. His early victories (and recent ones too) were pushed along by the momentum from a campaign built essentially upon a backlash against the David Miller administration. Reducing councillors’ expense budgets isn’t controversial—but reducing the police budget is, and we saw how that one worked out. Even when Ford has managed to score significant victories, they’ve been more of the house-cleaning variety than the city-building kind. The Toronto Sun listed Ford’s early anti-Miller accomplishments under headings like “Scrapped,” “Demolished” and “Blown Up.”
But there’s reason to believe Ford can turn things around. Ford’s handling of the budget surely hurt his ratings, but so have other, far more preventable decisions, like skipping the Pride parade. This wasn’t some political catch-22—it was a stupid mistake. Of course, Ford doesn’t always appear as the most reasonable guy. He’s going to need a personality fix—and some plans for the city that involve more than widespread cuts—if he hopes to turn things around. He can’t go on forever saying he’s just here to clean up a mess.