Friday, June 29, 2012

Rob Ford is Shiftless

A surprise visit from RoFo at the IDAHO flag-raising
I mean that quite literally. I am not calling RoFo "lazy" nor possessing of "a lack of ambition"; Ford has "ambition" out the wazoo. But in a blog post in May - on my birthday, no less - I wrote about the flag-raising ceremony at City Hall for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I attended that ceremony and was shocked to see the Mayor as he had stated repeatedly that it "wasn't possible" for him to be there. I mused at that time - not on my blog, but elsewhere - that perhaps we should give Ford the benefit of the doubt here; that maybe - just maybe - this was the very small stirring of a paradigm shift in his belief system and that the next few "gay-friendly" events would tell the real story. I still believe that was the right thing to do at that time.

But the benefit of the doubt is no longer an option, in my opinion. Ford clearly is not in the process of a paradigm shift - or, indeed, of any other sort of shift. Mayor Ford is completely "shiftless".

The only "appearance" by Ford on Monday
credit: David Rider, Toronto Star
This past Monday, Pride Week was kicked off in Toronto with the traditional raising of the flag on the very same pole that the IDAHO flag was raised on. Located on the roof of the City Hall rotunda, it's mere feet from Ford's office, but he couldn't manage to get there. The event had been on the calendar for months (at least), but Ford couldn't work it into his schedule. Why not? "The mayor was unavailable today," said his Press Secretary, George Christopolous. "No, I won’t be able to...because I’m already committed to something else," declared Hizzoner last Friday when asked if he would be attending the one Pride event that would be the very easiest place to make even a tiny, symbolic gesture. And that was it for the "explanations". And somehow that's where it's been left. But is that really good enough?

RoFo's only "appearance" at 2010 Pride flag-raising
credit: TorStar Newsservice/File
Absolutely not. Completely, unequivocally no. Rob Ford is the Mayor of the largest city in Canada. He campaigned for the job; it wasn't something he took upon himself because nobody else would do it. He has repeatedly said that he is a mayor of the people. But what "people" exactly, Rob? Only the people that voted for you? Only the people who agree with everything you've ever said? That wouldn't leave very many people at all, because it's gotten to the point where RoFo is voting completely alone on some pretty important issues, such as a $350K Federal grant for a gang-prevention programme mere days after Ford publicly declared how shaken he was by the Eaton Centre shootings. Now, I'm not for a moment suggesting that Ford was paying lip service to that tragedy; rather, I think the man was genuinely upset by the events but somehow cannot link things in his mind properly. I honestly think there is a synapse (or several) that does not fire properly in this man's brain, such that he is physically incapable of understanding cause and effect.

But that's not good enough, either. As Matt Elliott so eloquently declares in an excellent piece in yesterday's Metro, "Rob Ford owes Toronto an explanation." Quoting from that article:
"The City of Toronto Act lays it out pretty clearly: the mayor is supposed to 'act as the representative of the City both within and outside the City, and promote the City locally, nationally and internationally.' Further, he’s charged to 'participate in and foster activities that enhance the economic, social and environmental well-being of the City and its residents.'"
Are there a lot of "activities" that fit that bill more than Pride Week? No, not really. The Pride Parade alone is the largest of its kind in North America. Not just Canada: all of North America. I'm not sure that Pride does a lot to enhance the "environmental" well-being of the City, but it sure kicks butt on the first two types of enhancement.

Ford campaigning at the East York Canada Day parade, 2010
credit: Stan French
And then there's the matter of Ford's claim that he cannot attend the Pride Parade because he is always at his family's cottage on July 1st. He even went so far as to say last summer that, "last year [2010] I was there [at the cottage] during the campaign. We’re there every year and we’re going to continue there." Oh, really? It's incredible to me how often the Ford brothers demonstrate their innate non-comprehension of how this whole "media thing" works. In today's The Grid there is an article by Jonathan Goldsbie that begs to differ with the Mayor's declaration of his July 1 "traditions". The picture here (above left) is of RoFo marching in the East York Canada Day Parade on July 1, 2010. It was taken about 2 blocks from where I live. It's a shame that 2010 was one of the years we didn't bother to go down and see that parade; I'd love to be able to corroborate this story personally. However, there are more than enough credible sources quoted in that article to eliminate all doubt as to its veracity. So Ford is caught with his pants down. Again.

So the question is still valid: is Ford really that stupid? Or is it just that he simply doesn't care at all about what people think about him, so he just makes up whatever he feels like at any given moment? Does he figure that enough people in Toronto are too stupid to see past his ridiculous soundbites and alternate realities? "Subways, subways, subways, folks!" "Yeah, I like subways! I'm gonna vote for that guy! Again!" If so, is he right?

Good thing Ford wasn't driving this car
Now, all of the above would have been enough material for a blog piece about the idiocy that is our Mayor, especially during Pride Week. But then came this incredible news story: "Mayor Rob Ford had an 'incident' with a TTC streetcar driver Wednesday." That's how the story broke yesterday, "an incident". For which the driver had to receive "counseling" because he left his seat to confront Ford about...whatever happened. The news of the "incident", which took place on Wednesday, started as a small brush fire on Twitter but eventually gained enough momentum that some intrepid City Hall beat reporters - mainly Don Peat, in this case - were able to uncover enough of the truth to be able to relate it in a full-blown news story. And the truth appears to be: Rob Ford passed the open rear door of a TTC streetcar while operating a motor vehicle. In layman's terms, he drove past a stopped streetcar while people were getting on and off, which is incredibly unsafe and should have resulted in a traffic ticket being issued to RoFo. Naturally, Ford was terribly embarrassed by the whole thing and issued a public apology, then donated the amount the ticket would have been for to an AIDS hospice.

Ha ha ha! Good one, eh? No, Ford did just exactly what you'd expect him to do: he called the TTC to complain about the driver. Not the usual channels, either. Oh, no: Ford called his good buddy Andy Byford, his hand-picked choice to replace Gary Webster when Ford fired him for not toeing the party line this past winter. Byford dutifully got the ball rolling and, eventually, the driver had to come in to receive his "counseling". For attribution in Don Peat's news story, Bob Kinnear, Transit Union head, said all the right things including how he couldn't be sure what time this confrontation happened; however, on Don Peat's twitter feed I came across a rather more telling, offhanded remark: "(It) probably (happened) somewhere around 1:30 p.m. or 2 p.m. in the afternoon, I think that's what time Ford goes home." Yeah, that's pretty much how I see it, too.

If you see Ford a'comin', ya'd better start a'runnin'
credit: Tannis Toohey/Toronto Star
So in the past year, Ford has been caught driving while talking on his cell phone. Twice. He's been caught by a TTC driver in a ticket-worthy offence, but has received not so much as a reprimand in any of these cases. He's been spotted fairly regularly popping into an LCBO to pick up a mickey of vodka (the preferred choice of closet alcoholics for many, many years). He is far too easily enraged. Forget how poorly he is equipped to represent the city of Toronto as mayor, there's an even more pressing issue at hand.

And that issue is: should Rob Ford even have a licence to drive at this point? How many times will he "get off" of any charges while breaking traffic laws that would have forced everyday citizens - you know, "taxpayers" - to take the TTC for a few weeks, at least? Are we going to have to wait until he mows down a cyclist with his minivan after a couple of "pops" at work? Or will, even then, Ford avoid any disciplinary action because he's said all along cyclists are "swimming with the sharks" when they choose to ride along the roadways of this city; ergo, though Ford's "heart bleeds" for them, it was really the cyclist's fault? (These are actual Ford quotes about cyclists, not something I have imagined him saying.)

Well, if there's any good news to be taken from all of this, it's that we should be safe on our bikes or as pedestrians this weekend because Rob Ford will be far from the city, at his family cottage like he always is, every single Canada Day, no matter wha-- Oh. Right. Well, at least he's not campaigning right now in the middle of... Oh. Right.

Well, good luck out there, folks. Maybe you should take the subways, subways, subways this weekend.


  1. It's like having a small-town mayor running the largest city in Canada. Or is that insulting small-town mayors?

    1. Yep, that's insulting most small-town mayors. You need a critical mass of mean-spirited morons to elect a Rob Ford.

    2. What's the mass needed to re-elect him? *shudder*


I've kept my comments open and moderation-free for many years, but I've been forced to now review them before they post due to the actions of one member of my family. I apologize for having to take this stance, but that's the way the world is headed, sad to say. Thank you for your understanding.

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