Rob Ford: The Frankenstein That Mike Harris Created
Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford needs to do the right thing and step down. When a political leader spends the majority of his or her time in damage control, the show is over.
Last night’s bombshell report by popular US blog site Gawker (and backed up today in a more thorough report by The Toronto Star) alleges the existence of video of Ford smoking crack cocaine and serves as the final straw in a series of gaffes that have not only undermined the mayor’s ability to govern, but has sullied the image of a city once described by the late Peter Ustinov as “New York run by the Swiss.” Instead, we are looking more and more like The Ozarks ran by Bobby Brown. If there are any doubts to how widespread the damage to Toronto’s rep has been, check out this video quickly whipped together by some Taiwanese animators:
How such a man clearly out of his league got elected is not nearly the mystery it appears to be for out-of-towners now following the internationally trending Rob Ford “crackgate” story. As the following 2010 mayoralty vote pattern map shows, Toronto is largely a tale of two cities: liberal downtown urbanites and conservative suburbanites. The former has more in in common with New Yorkers, Londoners and San Franciscans than it does with its outlying cousins who prefer big box superstores versus organic markets, LA-style car culture versus separated bike lanes and spacious yards versus collective gardens.
After the cities amalgamated into the sprawling megalopolis now known as the GTA, mayoralty races were tilted by a tyranny of a suburban majority, leading to the successful rise of Ford and his Tea Party-tinged populist message of “stopping the gravy train.”
For Toronto suburbanites, the conservative mayor has been unfairly targeted by a latte-sipping, left-leaning, downtown liberal media. Much of the mayor’s damage has been self-inflicted, however. In the short two and a half years since winning the mayoralty seat, Ford has committed a disturbing number of blunders that, by now, reveal an irreversible pattern of fecklessness.
Any Torontonian with half-decent memory shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. Even before he became the mayor, Ford foreshadowed the current circus with the following dossier:
August 2010: Saying, in a perfect world, Toronto wouldn’t accept any more immigrants.
March 2008: Arrested and charged with assaulting his wife Renata, including a death threat.
April 2006: Being removed from Maple Leafs game due to booze-fuelled harassment of an out-of-town couple who claimed he was being too loud.
Oct 1999: Charged in Florida with marijuana possession and driving under the influence — initially told reporters he was charged with failing to do a breathalyzer test.
If nothing else, Crackgate has shown amalgamation has not worked for the city of Toronto, both politically and economically. Mayor Ford should resign immediately and with him, the concept of a super city where majority rule lends itself to acceptance of a mayor who stumbles from scandal to scandal. For that, we have the former Ontario premier Mike Harris, the architect of amalgamation, to thank. Clearly, he never liked Toronto as much as he liked the idea of it being ran by a suburban right winger.
It’s time for this tired horror flick to call it a wrap.