Politics, People, Commitment
The Notorious ROB FORD
By now, the whole world knows the infamous Rob Ford who is the 64th Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mayor Ford’s recent notoriety has much to do with his public admittance of using crack cocaine several weeks ago while in office after months of denying allegations. Mayor Ford told reporters that he smoked crack cocaine about a years ago “probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago” (Toronto Star). His confession followed by an apology sparked an instant reaction on social media sites with more than 1.5 million mentions about Rob Ford—1.4 million tweets and more than 16,000 videos mentioning Ford were uploaded to sites like YouTube and Vimeo (Marketwired).
Just about every country was weighing in on the scandal and people from Botswana, Qatar, Turkmenistan, Yemen and Chile were expressing their thoughts on social media sites (CityTV News). Down in the U.S., as if they did not have problems of their own, they cracked jokes about the mayor on talk shows like Real Time With Bill Maher. On November 12, 2013 Bill Maher tweeted, “I see Ford Motor Co. has asked #RobFord not to use their logo anymore on his t-shirts. And Coke said, “Don’t even think about it.” On late night TV show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel did a 22-minute spoof that poked fun at Mayor Ford’s heroin claims. In his opening monologue Kimmel said, “Gang members were caught on wiretap saying they have photos of Mayor Ford doing heroin, which is weird because I thought he had an exclusive deal with crack” (National Post). Jay Leno told a banal joke saying, “Did you hear the mayor’s excuse? Pretty flimsy. He said it was medical crack, for his crack-auma.” SNL impersonated Mayor Ford’s erratic behavior in an opening skit that parodied the mayor’s repeated public apologies for smoking crack, buying illegal drugs, driving after drinking and using vulgar language on live TV (CBC). The list of mediocre jokes goes on at the Mayor’s expense.
Since he withdrew his past denials and confessed to smoking crack cocaine, Ford has refused to step down as Mayor of Toronto and says that he will not step down and will run for re-election next year. “I was elected to do a job and that is exactly what I am going to continue doing,” he said during a news conference at his office on October 30, 2013. However, there are many, including the mayor’s council members, who would like him to resign. In fact, according to The Globe and Mail, 36 of 44 council members including 5 members of Ford’s executive committee signed a petition urging Mr. Ford to take a leave to “address his challenges privately.” On November 16, 2013, angry protestors dominated by union members gathered outside of Toronto City Hall at an anti-Ford rally and showed their disdain for the mayor demanding Mayor Ford to resign (CTV News). A growing number of Torontonians strongly believe that Ford should be removed from office for the following reasons:
- He is racist: Councillor George Mammoliti accused Councillor Rob Ford of calling him a “Gino boy,” a term used to disparage Italian Canadians. (The Star)
- He is homophobic: In 2006 during a Council meeting at City Hall Ford blurted out he was not in favour of the city donating $1.5 million to help prevent AIDS. He strongly argued that tax payers should not be concerned with AIDS because “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s the bottom line….” (JeromieWilliams.com)
- Displays vulgarity: “I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.” (Torontoist.com)
- Used profanity at city council meeting: “I effed up.” (National Post)
- Has ties to criminals: Alessandro Lisi, Ford’s driver who police refer to as a drug dealer, faces several drug-related charges including possession and trafficking. (The Globe and Mail)
- Has no integrity: Denies that a video of him smoking crack cocaine ever existed. (The Star)
- His judgment is questionable: Was drunk on the Danforth, at the Garrison Ball and was seen giving a drunken tirade at a hockey game. (The Star)
On the flip side, there are a good number of people who believe that, though Ford might have made a few mistakes in the past and has displayed patterns of inappropriate conduct, since he took office three years ago and despite his busy Council agenda he made fiscal conservatism one of his main priorities. “No one has a bigger heart than I do when it comes to helping people out,” said Ford. “But when it comes to spending tax payers’ dollars, I’ll watch every dime” (sagennext.com).
Many Torontonians are in great favour of the mayor because he has helped taxpayers save money and saved the city of Toronto millions of dollars which no other megacity mayor (David Miller or Mel Lastman) has done before him (Toronto Sun). He has kept most of the promises he made during the 2010 mayoral campaign:
- Saved taxpayers money: Mayor Ford and his council allies negotiated four-year labour deals with the city’s inside and outside workers without a garbage strike which will save taxpayers more than $100 million over five years. (Toronto Sun)
- Saved taxpayers money: Ford slashed councillors’ office budget by $900,000 and followed suit by reducing his budget by $700,000. (Global News)
- Saved taxpayers money: Ford proposed a $200,000 cut to each Councillor’s office budget and some of the cuts included travel to conferences, ending city limousine usage and club memberships. (Toronto Sun)
- Saved taxpayers money: Ford repealed Miller’s hated $60.00 vehicle registration fee that brought in 64 million annually to public reserve. (Global News)
- Prevented a TTC strike: Ford had the Toronto Transit Commission declared an essential service, protecting riders from future transit disruptions. (City of Toronto)
- Ford’s administration was starting to get city spending under control: He delivered annual property tax hikes of 0% in 2011, 2.5% in 2012 and 2% in 2013 compared to annual tax hikes of 3% during the first three years of the Miller era. (Toronto Sun)
- Made it a priority to respond to local constituents: Ford gave out his personal phone number to respond to Torontonians’ problems. (The Silhouette)
- Active in social housing communities: He has helped to repair buildings in these areas. (The Star)
Although Mayor Ford has been stripped of his key powers as mayor of Toronto by motions that were passed 41-2 and 39-3 at council’s meeting leaving Ford as mayor in name only (CBC) and polls show that most Torontonians want Ford to step down, there are still many Ford supporters. Torontonians may never agree on this widespread issue of whether Ford should or should not stay in office, but one thing is for sure, Mayor Ford has shown no signs of slowing down or stepping down anytime soon. He has said he will run for re-election next year and he wants to become Prime Minster of Canada. Be warned: don’t be surprised if this does happen, you never know what else the notorious Rob Ford has up his sleeves.
By Simone Da Costa
First published by The Caribbean Current