Not any more

Rob Ford has our attention, now he needs to prove he can act mayoral

In Canada on August 13, 2010 at 09:01

Peter Kuitenbrouwer: Rob Ford has our attention, now he needs to prove he can act mayoral

Natalie Alcoba/National Post

Natalie Alcoba/National Post

Toronto Mayoral candidate Rob Ford laughs prior to a debate on June 1

  August 13, 2010 – 7:30 am


As the clock on the tower at Old City Hall gonged three on Thursday afternoon, I plunked 50¢ into a vending box for the Toronto Sun; staring watchfully from the front page like a crusading District Attorney was Councillor Rob Ford, above lurid yellow type: COUNCIL ‘CORRUPT.’

Here in the epicentre of municipal power, people are beginning to mouth the unthinkable: Mayor Rob Ford. A new survey by Pollstra, a little-known Hamilton polling firm, shows Rob Ford soared from 29% of decided voters in June to 38% now. His nearest rival, former deputy premier George Smitherman, polls 29%, unchanged since June. Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone got 16%, Sarah Thomson 10% and Rocco Rossi 8%.

Granted, a whopping 32% of the 432 Toronto adults that Pollstra phoned remain undecided, which means that, of all those polled, more have no preference for mayor than are supporting Mr. Ford. Also, Pollstra says a “non-partisan research group just outside Toronto” commissioned the poll; it would be nice to know who actually paid for the thing and what questions were asked.Even so, Mr. Ford, the blowhard high school football coach, chief financial officer for Deco Labels & Tags, and — oh yeah — councillor from Ward 2, Etobicoke North, has the wind in his sails. In a lacklustre mayoral race with no incumbent, he has emerged, literally, as the biggest story.

Mr. Ford may turn stomachs at the supper table among the silver-spoon socialists of the Annex, but he reminds me — not ideologically, but as a fable — of David Miller in 2003. Back then, Mr. Miller was a scrappy, transit-riding outsider at odds with the power structure of City Hall, who dared to rail at the ruling elites and boldly demand a voice for residents who felt shut out, such as residents of Toronto Island. People laughed him off in January; by November he was mayor.

Today it is the Toronto suburbs’ turn to feel left out of City Hall. Rob Ford represents the middle-class residents of Etobicoke (and North York, and Scarborough) who shovel their driveways and pay their taxes and shop at the mall. A garbage strike last summer left them waiting in lines controlled by pickets, to drop off their garbage at city transfer stations (except in Etobicoke, where garbage is already contracted out). Now Mr. Ford says he will abolish the vehicle registration and land transfer taxes, and give taxpayers back control over their hard-earned cash.

What is not to love?

Mr. Ford is now further sharpening his knife, telling the Sun, “These in-camera meetings, there’s more corruption and skulduggery going on in there than I’ve ever seen in my life.” Here he should be more careful: gratuitous slurs against a large group of his fellow councillors, most of whom work long hours for what isn’t, by Toronto standards, great pay, could end up making the guy who uttered them look cheap. Besides, “skulduggery” sounds like a word out of a Hardy Boys book, say, The Case of the Squalid Council.

If Mr. Ford wants to bring up behaviour at City Hall, he must prepare for others to question his own attendance — one recent meeting of the city’s audit committee lost quorum because Mr. Ford, who promised to be there, chose to sit in his office giving a television interview.

People complain about the bickering here, but is Mr. Ford the man to unify city council? Rather than finesse his ideas through committee, as others do, he routinely brings his motions directly to the floor of Council, and loses — say, 35-2 — with only Councillor Doug Holyday (Etobicoke Centre) supporting him.

As Mr. Smitherman points out, Mr. Ford has yet to put out a platform. There is plenty of time left. Mr. Ford has caught our attention. Now many are waiting to see whether he can act mayoral.

National Post

Posted in: City Hall, Posted Toronto  Tags: ,


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