Memo to Ford: follow your heart, go coach football

By Pat Watson Thursday January 10 2013 in Opinion
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In the latest installment of the soap opera, “As the Ford rolls”, Rob Ford and his lawyers were in court on Monday trying get a panel of judges to overrule last month’s decision by Justice Charles Hackland that would remove Ford from the office of mayor.


Hackland ruled that Ford violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when he spoke and then voted in Council on the matter of his repayment of over $3,000 in donations he received from lobbyists for his football foundation – donations he solicited in letters using City of Toronto letterhead.


Now we wait for the panel’s decision.


Anyone who really cares about this city and its place in the world should sensibly want to see an end to this entire chapter. What that would mean is that the panel upholds Hackland’s ruling.


Ford’s un-statesmanlike demeanour and his dismissive and perfunctory presentation in response to important municipal matters make for a rather toxic time in our municipal politics. Granted, it also draws the kind of attention that comes with watching a highway crash – it’s awful, but it’s hard to look away.


The problem may appear to be Ford himself, yet his being mayor at this time is but a symptom of Toronto’s larger issues. For one, there is concern about the cost to each of us of funding all the needs of this city. So when Ford’s message is that he can solve that problem, then he will get weighted attention. But those who validate him are carrying a message that the only person who can address such problems is Ford. So, he can be any kind of irresponsible person he likes as long as he takes care of our nickels and dimes?


Well, here’s exhibit one: Ever since Ford got unionized labour out of waste management west of Yonge St., many of us have had to play a guessing game about when those bins placed on sidewalks will be picked up. That 35-day strike by inside and outside workers back in the summer of 2009 that included garbage removal workers was an uncomfortable mess. But how are bins now frequently sitting on sidewalks for extended periods any better? Could it be that people working at less than union wages care less about efficiency than those bound by union agreements?


So while it has been entertaining to make a caricature of Ford – and he makes it so darn easy – managing and making decisions in the best interest of the city has to be the focus.


Yes, there is strong support for his focus on spending and funding platforms for this city, but it does not necessarily mean he is the only person who can do the job, or should do the job.


In fact, in the eyes of many, at least 53 per cent of those who turned out to vote in the 2010 municipal election, Ford is not the one. However well his message tapped into Toronto’s fiscal angst, is he really the only person best suited for the job?


Ford seems to be a good fit as a football coach. He is committed to it, come rain or shine, or council meetings on important business, for that matter. So it’s not that he can’t make a commitment and keep it. It’s that he needs to be where his commitment is authentic and not one in which he is trying to actualize some kind of father-fulfillment fantasy.


But what is it going to take for ga-ga supporters to realize this man is not the ideal fit for this job? Many who turned out at the New Year’s levee did so to tell Ford not let the critics get to him. They need to stop projecting their victim mentality onto him and feeding his fantasy.


Is it better to tell a child who wants to sing to just try anyway, or is it better to tell the child she does not have a good singing voice, so she can point her energies in a more fitting direction? Desire is one thing, aptitude another.


Ford’s demeanor has convinced far too many that he does not possess the aptitude or the maturity required for the job he’s fighting with his lawyers to hold on to.


A lot of people have been fired from jobs only to understand after the fact that it was the best thing that could have happened to them. It would be better for Ford, for City Council and for Toronto.


I wish Rob Ford only happiness, meaning, he should follow his heart and go coach football. Why does Ford want to be mayor anyway?


A note on the hockey strike being over…


Good luck to the National Hockey League in trying to win back disenchanted fans.


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