By PAT WATSON
I get it now. This fight between people in this city over Rob Ford is not about Rob Ford at all. It couldn’t possibly be. Most people in this city have never personally met the man. It is about what he represents to them – or rather in them, whether for or against.
We keep hearing from the people who support Ford that they are for him because he is about saving them money and not spending wastefully at city hall. So where in the city money does not appear to be spent, there is bitterness?
This then goes to the question, what advocacy are councillors bringing to the table in support of the wards they represent? Even if the person who is elected mayor is tasked with coalescing support behind his various interests, are we to understand that the individuals so many put their trust in to represent them are, in reality, such weak advocates for those wards?
The outer reaches of this newly amalgamated city clearly feel that they have not gotten their money’s worth from the group that meets on Queen Street West on a daily basis.
Former mayor David Miller must have done a really thorough job of leaving Scarborough and Etobicoke feeling ignored or left out.
In a sense, the animosity echoes the remaining bitterness felt by significant portions of Ontario after the Mike Harris years at the provincial level of government.
But here is the question that hangs in the air for those who feel that a right-of-centre candidate would be their best money saving option: Why not then consider John Tory? After all, Tory is a wealthy member of the dominant group. Similar to Ford, he is well liked, and from all appearances has good support among visible minority communities.
To be clear, this is not a personal endorsement of Tory, rather it is to make a comparison of individuals who say they have the same agenda they want to take to city hall as mayor.
So the other consideration is that Ford is, for all his crassness and apparent counter-culture bravado, a walking middle-finger to society for all those who feel hard done by in this system. Who doesn’t get that?
But I love this city, as much I will criticize what I perceive as any foolishness that emerges within it. As such, giving it the middle finger in the personality of Rob Ford is not the best answer that can redeem the underserved. This is not sweet revenge.
Conversely, those against Ford – and they are legion – see a national disgrace, throwing a pie into the face of the carefully nurtured image of a wannabe-world-class city.
‘We are better than this guy’ is the message they want to reinforce. We are better than a Ford supporter who would put a chokehold on a protester voicing his opposition to Ford’s apparent disdain for Toronto’s gay community. We are better than racial slurs and low-life existence in dark corners filled with the smoke of crack pipes.
There is one thing we should all be able to agree upon. Ford has shown that it’s time to adjust the rules of engagement. No one wants to ever again endure a campaign period that lasts the better part of a year. How is it federal and provincial campaigns can be over and done with in weeks, but municipal decisions have to drag on until we are all numb from the pain of it?
It’s a strange thing when we just want the fall to come so we can be done with municipal elections. This from a city that enjoys its summers so much you can hardly get anywhere in a car on the weekends from people filling the streets to grab as much summer sun and heat as possible. This being Toronto, of course, we can’t just sit in the sun, we must be purpose driven, like maybe running to raise funds for some cause. But I digress.
As god-awfully engrossing as the Ford adventure has been and continues to be, frankly the end will be welcome.
A note on bus driver carelessness…
Was it the full moon that had some public transit drivers feeling edgy and breaking road rules? Near misses and now a fatality involving a TTC driver is concerning.