September 25, 2015

My dinner with Rob Ford

Mitch WolfeRebel Blogger

Last night, at the last minute, I showed up at a Toronto restaurant, and guess who was in attendance? Our former mayor, the incomparable Rob Ford.

He was having a bite to eat with a friend of mine.

I approached Rob’s table and my friend motioned for me to sit down.

Under the circumstances, Rob looked great. He was smiling. He was funny. He was mellow.

He had lost some weight and you could just tell he was getting back into fighting political trim.

Rob recalled that for a certain period during his mayoralty, I had written a series of articles in the Huffington Post explaining the political phenomenon that was, and still is, “Ford Nation.”

I’d explained why Rob Ford was that rare politician and public figure, one who inspired devotion and loyalty from a truly diverse multicultural population.

Ford Nation consists of men and women from their teens to their 90s. Cutting across all races, religions and ethnicities and socio-economic groups. Predominantly, working class and middle income South Asians, Asians, blacks, Filipinos, Persians, Russians, Vietnamese, Italians, Greeks, Muslims and of course, Jewish folks.

(And, yeah, a smattering of angry old white men and women.)

Mostly, from the GTA heartland: Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, York and East York, but not exclusively so.

I reminded Rob that then and now, he still had the best political instincts in Toronto, if not in all of Canada.

Rob Ford would have stopped that stupid Olympics gravy train in its tracks. And not dithered back and forth, hemming and hawing, like the current mayor John Tory.

Remember Ford’s familiar rallying cries?

“Subways, subway, subways”

“The war on the car”

“Stop the gravy train”

“Respect the taxpayer”

These are not empty political slogans, but reflect a philosophy that still resonates with a large number of  GTA residents, both in the suburbs and in downtown Toronto.

And still drives the agenda in Toronto City Hall.

Rob Ford and John Tory both campaigned on saving millions of dollars of taxpayer money by privatizing garbage services east of Yonge Street.

By now, Rob Ford, if he was mayor, would have honored that campaign promise to the Toronto people. To date, Mayor Tory, as I predicted, has caved to the self-entitled unions and the highly conflicted Toronto downtown elitist leftist councilors.

Tory has failed to make the tough fiscal choices that Mayor Ford made during the very successful early years of his mayoralty.

Every day, Ford is getting stronger and stronger.

Last night, Rob Ford showed signs that he still has that fire in his belly.

In two more years, the complacent Tory and his downtown elitist supporters, better watch their back.

Because I think Tory is going to have quite a fight on his hands.



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commented 2015-09-27 19:36:48 -0400
Cut it any way you want Andrew, he was ‘ousted’ .
That was a bad time for him, but it doesn’t invalidate his accomplishments for the city of Toronto, and by no means is an indication of the support he could glean today.
commented 2015-09-27 14:08:15 -0400
@charleton G
Rob Ford’s popularity is immediately apparent from his donor list.
Chow got 1.64 million dollars from 5708 donors.
Tory got 2.76 million from 2602 donors.
R Ford got only 174k – 0.17m – from 538 donors.
Once he dropped to councillor, he got 2500 dollars from precisely seven third party donors.
commented 2015-09-27 10:21:14 -0400
Ezra is right TO loves Ford. He was dumb to take drugs and lie about it but I would vote for him as mayor. He did more to stop the gravy train than any other mayor. He is a rock star. Poor Jimmy such a liar loser. Tory sucks.
commented 2015-09-25 13:38:17 -0400
No shock there that Liza loves Rob Ford.

What political instincts? He has lied about or completely embellished his entire political career and record. Just saying “stop the gravy train” doesn’t make you a great politician. I love that Ford Nation morons just accept Rob Ford at his work and don’t acknowledge when he has been fact checked.

Mayor McCheese is more qualified to be mayor over Rob Ford.
commented 2015-09-25 13:26:11 -0400
Awesome. Glad to hear Rob is on the mend. People can say what ever they want about Rob Ford and turn up their noses, but as you pointed out Mitch, Rob has great political instincts.
I’m not the least bit surprised to hear he still has that ‘fire in his belly’. When he is completely on top of his health, I would be very surprised and disappointed if he didn’t get back in the game. Toronto needs him.
The province of my birth may be in a mess politically, provincially, but Rob would be a beacon of light, and some reason among the chaos, at least in T.O. and area. He knows how to run that city!
commented 2015-09-25 13:23:55 -0400
Rob Ford is just an absolute fucking moron and Ford Nation was just as dumb to believe the things that he would claim – his accomplishments, which were completely debunked line by line and per every comment that he ever made with extensive fact checking.

He gave the same answer for everything. Ask him about abortion and he responds with something to do with the gravy train.

I know The Rebel is not a fan of The Toronto Star, but I have to commend them and Robyn Doolittle for the excellent work in appropriately taking Rob Ford down and for helping the world to see what a moronic jackass Rob Ford is – both in his personal life and professional life.
commented 2015-09-25 12:50:04 -0400
Ford’s canny politics are based in his ability to condense complex issues into simple slogans. Actually fixing the problems is far beyond his capabilities, but he’s able to condense them down very efficiently. This is also why Donald Trump is so popular – although Trump is far more self-aware and is playing the bozo persona deliberately. That being said, among Ford Nation, actually fixing problems isn’t really crucial. They’re angry about stuff, and so is Ford. He’s an outlet for their own anger … which generally stems from a combination of the decline in economic status for unskilled workers, plus the trials and tribulations of living in a city that has quietly become enormous and cosmopolitan. There is some element of jealousy over those that prosper in this environment – of the prosperity of the downtown core, manifested in dislike of the “Elite” (a meaningless and often self-contradictory category) and deep set anti-intellectualism. That he offers no solutions is secondary.

In essence, he offers a simplified, angry worldview for those who don’t know or care about the complexities of real world problems. Slogans for those that don’t really understand what’s going on – Ford never did, and he became mayor! That shows them snooty elitists what’s what. This is particularly evident when Ford was polling at significant support levels in Mississauga’s election race. It doesn’t matter that he’s not even in the race there. The same is true of “the war on the car”. The War on the Car never existed; traffic congestion is a fact of life in big cities and is only addressed by providing alternative transportation means. To do this cost-effectively, you need to use your existing resources more effectively. Are subways everywhere a nice idea? Sure. It’s a nice dream, but in reality, isn’t at all practical or feasible. So… we have to make compromises in the name of practicality. Devoted transit lanes fall into that category, although for the most part they were to be built with boulevard space minimizing the actual compromise (another example of basic details becoming irrelevant relative to angry slogans).

Of course, this is profoundly self-destructive, his incompetence has allowed the suburb’s problems to fester, and the few policies he did manage to pass are not necessarily helpful towards addressing the problem. Meanwhile, the “elitists” don’t really suffer for it as they are able to maneuver around Ford Nation, both politically and socially, but the symbolism is what is important. Most of Ford Nation isn’t even aware that picking on Ford is more of a hobby than anything else, as he’s not really competent enough to pose a real threat to the “elite”. “I hate the war on Rob Ford”, or even its more mature sibling, the Rebel, is more of a curiosity than a serious threat to anything.