It’s been a few days since the passing of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and though he was battling a cruel form of cancer and wasn’t responding to treatment, I was still shocked. I thought if anyone could beat insurmountable odds, it was Rob Ford.
In fact, I don’t think even his enemies were betting against him.
It was hard to watch the Media Party and progressives dash to microphones to say how much they’d all miss Rob and what a sad time it was for Toronto. Was anyone buying that?
Always a Rob Ford supporter, I first met him a few years before he became Mayor. I enjoyed his weekly Thursday spots on AM640 where he’d shine a light on spending at city hall.
But I was also intrigued by his passion to coach football for the Don Bosco Eagles, so I spent a day with him for a feature story. The game score was secondary. The real story was about hope and second chances. Rob donated $40,000 of his own money to resurrect the dormant football program wanting to give the students, many fatherless, something to aspire to. A few moms told me their sons would either be in jail or dead if not for Rob.
He was happiest when he was on the gridiron with the kids yet, the Ford witch-hunt kicked into overdrive because Rob had the gall to raise $3,500 using City of Toronto letterhead.
Enter Paul Magdar and lawyer Clayton Ruby seeking to remove Rob from office by court order. Their media accomplices joined the feeding frenzy, staking-out Rob’s home.
This is when he began to succumb to personal demons and when journalism set a new low. The media mob got nasty and personal. The Toronto Star’s front-page photo of a Kentucky Fried Chicken visit, NOW magazine’s photo-shop of Rob’s head on the body of a naked obese man. It was juvenile and vulgar.
Many saw strategy behind the spite: Rob Ford stood for the common man. His campaign slogan, “Respect for Taxpayers,” was real. Unlike progressive elites, Rob didn’t see taxpayers as cash-cows to milk with endless taxes, levies, fees and “revenue tools”.
Unlike the elitists, he didn’t rubberstamp money losing projects, standing up to unions and bureaucrats to deliver on his pledges. That’s why he won by a landslide in 2010.
This will ultimately prove to be Rob’s everlasting legacy.
Rest in peace, Mayor.