By TOM GODFREY
Whatever happened to Ford Nation and the many skeptics who didn’t think Mayor John Tory would ever lead this great city?
Former Mayor Rob Ford, and his so-called Ford Nation followers, have quietly disappeared into the night as brother Doug was shown the door during the municipal elections last November.
A hospitalized Rob managed to hold on to Ward 2, the last remnants of the Ford family dynasty that started with father Doug Ford Sr., a former MPP for Etobicoke-Humber.
The younger Ford, thank goodness for many of us, took with him the pandemonium and chaos that he will be mostly remembered for at City Hall.
Gone are the constant media scrutiny, lineups and antics that existed for more than a year outside the Mayor’s Office as the world watched in amusement.
Good riddance to the many instances of chasing the burly former mayor from the underground parking lot and up flights of stairs as he bolted to the safety of his office.
Tory, who holds a wealth of business experience, has re-established orderly press conferences in which all media are treated the same with little favouritism being shown to reporters.
Tory is level-headed, accessible and doesn’t take office with a council as badly divided by right and left wingers as was the case when Ford was mayor. He has studied the files and plans to work with all parties to move Toronto forward.
Despite a handful of left-leaning councillors who did not get their own way, Tory has the support of council and is willing to work with anyone to further his agenda.
Topping his list of priorities are traffic congestion, improving the TTC and, of course, the construction of a Smart Track transit plan that he campaigned on.
I am one of many regulars at City Hall who look forward to the order and civility now displayed in the workings of council. Those elected may not agree with each other, but gone are the name-calling, back-biting and divisiveness that was prevalent this time last year.
Remember the ridicule that we, residents, and the City of Toronto, were forced to undergo last year due to the antics of the former mayor. There was his crack smoking that led to a police investigation, in which a Ford friend was arrested.
Then there were the public meltdowns on Jimmy Kimmel and other U.S. late night TV shows. Even some of Hollywood’s biggest stars were poking fun at us.
Thank goodness, those days are gone and council can resume its important work, such as addressing rising property taxes, fixing our infrastructure and reigning-in spending.
Some councillors are returning to work in a better mood and promise to be more productive for taxpayers with the Ford brothers out of the way. Some complained they were muzzled by the brothers and forced to keep quiet on controversial issues.
Doug has returned to running the Ford family company in the U.S., as others are left to pick up the pieces here.
Tory is now mending fences and feelings left tattered by the Fords and their Ford Nation sideshow. He has reached out to residents, who are being kept in the loop, about his plans to make the city a better place.
It will take a little while for us, and the City of Toronto, to bounce back from the PR damage left by the Fords. At least now we appear to have a council which is united and working together.
Most city residents are pleased that the Fords’ reign of confusion and divisiveness is over. Now we can catch our breath and get back on track.
We need to hear again one solid voice of leadership that is not constantly attacked or belittled by others for political gain. We are a world-class city that requires a solid leadership team with a long term vision.
Hopefully, this year residents will get more of the services we pay for and none of the theatre and grandstanding we have had in the past.