March 30, 2016

Creator of “I Hate the War on Mayor Rob Ford” Facebook page looks back

Neil FlaggRebel Blogger

In October 2011, after what most considered to be a nearly perfect first 10 months in office for Toronto’s late Mayor Rob Ford, a bubbling hostility was starting to emerge, and it didn’t sit well with me.

In a whimsical moment of frustration over something I saw posted on Facebook, I clicked the “Create Page” button, came up with the name “I Hate the War on Mayor Rob Ford”, and began what became a daily fight against the forces that seemed to be coming together to bring Rob down.

Over the next three years, as the page grew to thousands of regular followers, garnered the attention of media that included interview requests from every major media outlet in Canada and many overseas, and ate up countless hours of time in my busy life as a businessman, husband and father, the most frequent question asked of me and co-contributors Sue Ferguson-Ross and Rob Hoshowsky was:

Why on earth are you doing this?

It’s not like it was earning me many new friends in my uptown neighbourhood. And as the years went by, I learned, to my surprise, that it earned me no friends in the two political parties I belonged to, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and the Conservative Party of Canada.

It wasn’t as a personal favour to the Fords. My entire interaction with them, up to that point, consisted of a single day of canvassing for Rob in suburban "Bathurst Manor" in the summer of 2010. (To this day, I’ve only had a handful of additional chance encounters with the family and the team.)

I was on no one’s payroll, despite being accused countless times of being a staffer at the Ford family business, Deco; a Ford family operative; a Conservative Party agent; and a Sun Media promotional asset to name a few.

In the vivid imagination of the not-always-lucid left, at various times I was supposedly a secret pseudonym for Ezra Levant, Sue-Ann Levy, Joe Warmington, David Price, Sandro Lisi, Nick Kouvalis, Randy Ford, Doug Ford, and even Rob Ford himself.

I still have the hate-messages to prove it.

Why did I spend countless hours fighting it out on Facebook over fat jokes and law suits, budgets and bike lanes, public appearances and private moments, conflicts-of-interest and conflicts-of-personality?

I did it for one reason, and one reason only: because Rob Ford was the one politician who truly had my back. As a regular, hard-working, God-fearing family man in the City of Toronto, the attacks on Rob were attacks on me. I took them personally, and reacted accordingly. Hundreds of thousands of others like me felt the same.

Defending the Mayoralty of Rob Ford was not an easy job, and not for the reason you might be thinking. Rob’s problem with the irresponsible ingesting of substances, as any political insider knows, was not unique. If he had more people trying to help him conquer his problem, rather than weaponizing it against him for political and journalistic gain, it would never have been such an issue. It was the weaponization of his private behaviors, through the media-political assault against him, and not the behaviours themselves (as odious as sometimes they became), that ultimately made his job as Mayor essentially impossible. It was easy to point this out, and was obvious to most. Suggesting that the man deserved a helping hand, and not a boot on the neck, was an easy case to make.

What made the defense of Rob Ford so difficult was the fact that he was an undeniable success as Mayor. His list of political victories in the first two years of his mandate – zero property tax increase, elimination of fees, outsourcing of garbage pickup, banning public transit union strikes, flatlining spending – is truly remarkable and should become a textbook-case of how to run a taxpayer-friendly modern municipal mayoralty.

The lib-left, and all its co-conspirators in "the Pyramid of Extortion" (a term coined by local radio personality Lou Schizas) know there’s only one thing to fear, and that is effective leadership on the center-right. Their only path to maintaining power is to rip apart any effective Rob Ford-like figures to pieces.

So, the more successful he was, the more resources they poured in to tearing him down. Lawyers, journalists, politicians, law enforcement – everyone in the Pyramid of Extortion was committed to turning right into wrong, virtue into vice, and support for Rob into a social stigma. The sheer overwhelming nature of this war made fighting it an almost impossible task at its peak. At "I Hate The War on Mayor Rob Ford," we had thousands of people fighting in his defense, and we couldn’t stop the deluge. Imagine how Rob, Doug, and their one or two true allies in a system flooding the battlefield against them would have felt.

Did their "War on Ford" work? Unless you blame his ultimately incurable pleomorphic liposarcoma diagnosis on the stress and negative karma inflicted upon him by his aggressive harassers, then the answer is no. Most political watchers I know and respect say that Doug Ford’s ragtag campaign coming within 65,000 votes of John Tory’s multi-million-dollar four-year campaign, as a last-second replacement in the 2014 Toronto Mayoral Race, was bordering on a miracle, and that if Rob had been healthy and in the race, he would certainly have won. The overwhelming outpouring of love and support for Rob and the Ford family since his passing last week has demonstrated that the appetite for his politics and style was not a passing fancy.

It is clear that, despite its best efforts, the "War on Ford" failed to break the spirit of Toronto’s regular, hard-working, God-fearing family-oriented people. The Ford style and the Ford message is a genie that all the high-self-esteem, clever little Poli-Sci grads who are doing their best to ruin modern politics, can never put back in the bottle. “Respect for Taxpayers” is a torch waiting to be handed off and carried for the next epoch.

Carry it if you dare.

One thing is for certain – we will have your back.



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commented 2016-04-01 00:11:24 -0400
Sad for his family, but I’m not going to overlook the fact he was a violently racist, homophobic, close- minded, short sighted, bully who enabled and emboldened the worst of the city. Just because someone dies it doesn’t wipe away a life of being terrible.
commented 2016-03-31 16:06:40 -0400
The name calling and hypocrisy of this group never cease to amaze me. There is no personal grudge. There is no opportunism. There is no immaturity. I posted a personal opinion, in a respectful way, in response to an article.
commented 2016-03-31 11:20:50 -0400
Leslie – grow up dear!
commented 2016-03-31 10:25:50 -0400
Seemed like a nice man, wish i would of known him personally.
commented 2016-03-31 00:59:14 -0400
I think that we should name that new bike lane along Bloor Street after Rob Ford.
commented 2016-03-30 19:32:40 -0400
It saddens me to see some take this opportunity to voice a personal grudge. Rest Well Rob.
commented 2016-03-30 19:29:10 -0400
Leslie, that was the biggest load of self-righteous snobbery stated in an “oh, I am so concerned for you” condescending tone I have read for a long while. And I bet you are incapable of seeing just how much of a sickeningly putrid self-righteous snob you are.
commented 2016-03-30 16:05:32 -0400
Neil, you’re a bright guy. Articulate, well-read, and a great writer. I have historically valued your conservative views. In recent years, however, your voice has demonstrated what I can only describe as sheer immaturity. You have become the overly sensitive schoolyard bully. Your hypocrisy in tearing apart politicians on the other side of the fence while crying over often valid, yet often harsh criticism of your friends is incomprehensible to me. It saddens me for your children that the footprint you have left on the vast world of the Internet depicts this person who is so contradictory to the values you instill in them. I genuinely hope that one day you wake up, look in the mirror, and realize that your message can be easily communicated without the unnecessary accusations and language that I have seen you often post, most often in the comments on Facebook. Best of luck to you.
commented 2016-03-30 12:57:32 -0400
Love you, Rob! Funny how the Liberals want to “shoot-up” a bunch of junkies at the taxpayers’ expense, however, they didn’t want to help Rob with his so-called addiction. You conquered them yourself and that speaks volumes. You’re like Toronto’s Princess Diana…our King Rob!
commented 2016-03-30 12:49:47 -0400
God bless you sir! Rob was a populist, and the elite couldn’t stand not being able to control him. As with anyone who does not agree with them, they drummed up every imaginable lie and deceit to try and turn the public on him. It didn’t work because the public saw through their lies. I truly believe that had Rob recovered, he would have won TO again by a landslide! I hope that someone like Rob comes a long again, otherwise TO will be lost to the land of freebies for ever.