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politics

Ten Things About Rob Ford

Thoughts on a vexed mayoralty, and what can be done to combat it.

Rob-Ford-Don-Cherry

It is far too soon to tell whether the long, dense sequence of anger-inspiring comments, falsehoods, and dubious policy decisions Rob and Doug Ford have been responsible for this month will represent, in retrospect, some sort of tipping point in this administration. What is certain is that across Toronto, a rapid-fire sequence of decisions and proclamations is causing an upsurge of anger among many residents.
Like all mayoralties, Ford’s is complex. There are many entry points to analysis and a great many questions to which we do not yet know the answers. (Does Ford think that a raft of budget cuts will genuinely make Toronto a better city, for instance, or does he not care about greatness so long as things cost less?) But as the torrent of headlines, quotable quotes, and editorials builds, commentary is starting to crystallize around one issue: anger is all well and good, but it’s not clear that it will change anything. The Brothers Ford may offend our sensibilities, but collective outrage is a reaction, not a remedy.
A great many substantial criticisms have been levied against our mayor, by a great many people. And just about every time he or Brother Doug say something eyebrow-raising, these criticisms are revisited far and wide. Let us summarize and stipulate them for the record:

1 Toronto faces real budget challenges, but we are not in the midst of a budgetary crisis. Our credit rating is strong; our debt level is reasonable relative to the value of our assets; and the opening pressure on our budget, while substantial, is no larger than in previous years—when we dealt with that pressure without resorting to wholesale service cuts.

2 Yes, Rob Ford broke campaign promises. He said “no service cuts, guaranteed” and then “no major service cuts,” and then “no service cuts in 2011,” and now “these are not service cuts but efficiencies.” This is meaningless babble. Ford campaigned on a platform whose major plank was that we could reduce the size of our budget and its impact on our tax bills without losing services. There is no reasonable interpretation of the words “efficiency” or “service” under which that claim is true.

3 It was naïve to believe Rob Ford when he made those promises. Ford was not, when he hit the mayoral campaign trail, an unknown quantity. A veteran councillor, we had years of voting records to refer to which demonstrated his views more clearly than his campaign slogans did or could. Ford voted, year after year, against all grants to community organizations. He voted, year after year, against service expansions and transit projects and… just about everything. It’s wrong for a candidate to campaign on falsehoods; it is also naïve—at best wishful thinking, at worst willful blindness—of voters to believe campaign promises that fly in the face of a candidate’s record in public office. It is nothing short of pitiful that the candidates who ran against Ford were unable to use his record against him decisively. He is at fault for breaking his word. We are at fault to the extent that we believed him in the first place.

4 Ford’s administration is winning the message war. Ford tries to accomplish things by announcing proposals as faits accompli, thereby convincing many people that fighting those proposals is fruitless. (See: Transit City, privatization of services, buyouts offered to City staff, the entire budget processes). While many find this infuriating, it has thus far also proven effective. However, the tactic only works to the extent that the public, the councillors who vote on these proposals, and the media who report on them allow Ford’s proclamations to set the agenda for our public discourse. It will stop working if we stop letting it. This is compounded by another tactic that can best be described as the Niagara Falls Manoeuvre. There is just so much going on, happening so fast, and so many outrageous things are tossed off by the Brothers Ford as casual commentary that it is quite simply overwhelming. It can be hard for the opposition to settle on a target when there are so many to choose from.

5 Rob and Doug say many things that are demonstrably false. They say many more that are offensive to a great many Torontonians. This is a real problem (leadership matters), and erroneous, misleading, or ignorant statements should be condemned (discourse matters too). But it is not the biggest problem, and the troubling statements ought not distract concerned residents from the troubling decisions that are being taken. As one City Hall observer put it, “Doug Ford is trolling us.” Should we have municipal leaders who, whether by design or out of ignorance, say things that are patently out of step with reality? No. Is it reasonable to get upset about these things? Yes. Will getting upset about these things change them? Not alone.

6 The Ford administration will not be guided by reason, evidence, or expertise. Ford, as he has told us many times, listens to the voters. Or, at least, he listens to the voters in his head. What he has not shown, at any point in time, is any willingness to listen to careful analysis on a subject. The fate of Jarvis Street, for instance, was determined neither by the environmental assessment and recommendations advanced by City staff, nor by transit planning principles, but simply by what Ford wanted. And so it goes with all decisions—it is a question of gut instincts, not arguments.

7 The Ford administration will not be guided by public opinion, and doesn’t respect public engagement in the political process. The City cheaped out on a shoddy public survey regarding the budget, Ford ally Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) dismissed what results those consultations did yield as invalid, and Doug Ford has insulted the very notion that those who show up to speak at committee meetings should be heard. The mayor’s invitation to all Torontonians to come down to City Hall and address the Executive Committee this week notwithstanding, this administration has shown deep contempt for the public. It follows that getting angry with Rob Ford, making deputations in front of Rob Ford, or calling Rob Ford’s cellphone won’t change his mind, his policies, or his votes on the floor of council. Anyone who is interested in shifting the course that city council is currently pursuing can attempt to do so by speaking to the mayor, and may be showing some nobility in that attempt, but there is no reason to believe this will succeed.

8 The above statements are true whether or not you think they applied to David Miller’s administration. They describe real problems whether or not they applied to David Miller’s administration. And two wrongs don’t make a right.


Having stipulated these things, let’s note that continued outrage about the above points is not mere whinging; calling attention to the things that aggrieve us is an important part of our ongoing discussion as a city. There will be, without question, a great many more ire-inducing proclamations; we should and must continue pointing out the problems in these statements when they are made. This is not, however, a solution. And so therefore let us turn our attention to:

9 Persistent, thoughtful public pressure, not on the mayor but on certain councillors, is the best and likely only way to change the trajectory of this administration. This is the short-term remedy. There are a certain number of councillors the mayor can consistently count on to vote his way. There are a certain number of councillors the opposition can consistently count on. And there are a few councillors in the middle (the mushy middle, in City Hall jargon) whose policy commitments and voting patterns aren’t clear. They vote sometimes, but not always, as the mayor wishes. For those residents who want to avoid, say, cuts to the TTC’s budget, theirs are the votes that matter. By all means, accept the mayor’s invitation to give a deputation on the budget reports tomorrow. But when you do, realize that your audience—if you are seeking to change outcomes and not just share your feelings—isn’t the mayor or his allies in the room. It is the centrist/non-commital/erratic councillors whose votes will decide the budget and many other things besides. They all want to be re-elected, and they will be willing to vote against the administration in many cases if their constituents make it clear that the price of loyalty to Ford is getting turfed from office.

10 A substantial grassroots organization effort is the best way of improving the tenor of discourse at City Hall. This is the long-term remedy. One of the realities Ford’s mayoralty has laid bare is that Toronto can fall prey to polarization more easily than many of us would like to admit. We are, apparently, either cyclists or drivers (but not both). We are suburbanites or downtowners, patronize Tim Horton’s or the library. Of course, these dichotomies are total fictions—but that hasn’t stopped many people from using them. And so what we need is to start talking to each other, often and in new ways, about our daily experiences of the city and the ways we would like it to develop and mature. Only 53 per cent of eligible voters went to the polls on October 25. We need to care more, and we need to meet each other more often. We need to start bridging the divides that our current discourse is widening.

Comments

  • isyouhappy

    Thank you for writing this.

  • torontothegreat

    I almost feel calmer in my outrage.
    Except that David Shiner is my councillor. FML.

  • andrew97

    The Brothers Ford = pageviews gold. Right? I'm just saying.

  • http://twitter.com/agorley Adam Gorley

    Great post.

  • Eric S. Smith

    Somebody is right on the Internet!

  • JohnfromTO

    And for some councillors, the cost of loyalty to Ford is having their spouses turfed from office. For example, Michelle Berardinetti voted against free public health nurses, paid for by the provincial government. Ford said that the provincial government could not be trusted to uphold its funding obligations.

    Well, Cllr Berardinetti's husband Lorenzo is a member of that same government (MPP – Scarborough Southwest) that Cllr Berardinetti says cannot be trusted. And if a purported Liberal like Michelle Berardinetti believes nurses are gravy even if they are free, then clearly “Liberal” does not mean the same thing in the Berardinetti household that it used to mean in mine.

    Cllr. Berardinetti has described
    her actions
    as “moderate, pragmatic.” She is neither. Make both Berardinettis pay the cost of this extremism.

  • torontothegreat

    Even if it did, which I'm sure it does. How is that Torontoist's problem? They don't even have to sensationalize any of the content.

  • http://twitter.com/ruhee_ Ruhee D.

    Point 8 says “Mliier” instead of Miller, FYI.

    Thank you for writing this so clearly and comprehensibly. Instead of a long emotional rant, we get concrete points backed by information. I appreciate this (considering the Fords routinely make me emotional and angry, it is probably not the easiest thing to do).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christina-Robins/742996220 Christina Robins

    Please join my protest page, we are the grass roots movement http://www.facebook.com/nofordnation

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=583090534 Rob Drover

    and point 7 has “invitiation” instead of “invitation”.  Torontoist still looking to hire a copy editor, I see. ;-) 

    Beyond the spelling corrections, this is a “dead on” summation of the train-wreck-in-progress that is the Ford Administration.  The sooner Sweaty Bob and Dumbass Doug are ousted, the better off the city will be.

  • misstraceynolan

    Thank you for bringing such clarity to this subject Hamutal.  Also, “It is nothing short of pitiful that the candidates who ran in opposition to Rob Ford were not able to use his record against him decisively.” should be on bumper stickers and embroidered on cushions.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkJull Mark Jull

    Great post! My two cents:

    I hope it's becoming clear to the left ('progressives') that facts do not matter in politics. During the campaign many pointed out the falsity of Ford's claims that there's “billions of dollars in waste” and that we pay too much tax. These things are demonstrably false, but pointing that out does nothing. Instead of arguing with evidence, we need to think in terms of faith and belief – people believe these things about waste and taxes regardless of the facts. Remember Regan saying “I don't care what the facts are!”? So, I think it's fruitless to keep pointing out the facts. Instead we need to think about how we change people's beliefs. I'm not sure how to do this, but it should be the target.

    Also, when we point out Ford's character flaws, we only reinforce voters' identification with Ford. That giving the finger to a mom telling him to not talk on his phone – I imagine there are many people who loved this… how many times have they been scolded by some do-gooder and wanted to (or did) flip them off? I wonder if that's why Ford laughed so hard when it was brought up in that CTV interview – was he thinking, “people are gonna love this!”? Same with the Atwood thing. So, I suggest we try not to get caught up in these types of stories (there will be more!) and instead try to show how the Fords' council votes and decisions affect the Ford base. This is not hard – show how lack of public nurses, library closures, 1950s style planning directly affect the things important to the 'taxpayer': the strength and safety of neighbourhoods, the local small business economy, etc.

  • Cameron Reid

    Very thoughtful, balanced, and well-thought out.

    We can't let the Fords control the character of the political dialogue.

  • http://twitter.com/carlyrhiannon carlyrhiannon

    Sooooo… Torontoist shouldn't write about them because people are interested in reading about them? That makes sense.

  • Toronto_Dave

    I think the most crucial point made here is #9, if only for all the reasons laid out before it. At this point, we have pretty much learned what we can expect from the Ford administration. It doesn't matter how many well-reasoned arguments we put forward or how loudly and persistently we oppose the mayor's most wrongheaded policies. The fact is that not only does he not listen to our concerns; he and his political allies actually seem to be emboldened by our opposition, coming as it does from so-called “left-wing elites”.

    No; we need to take this fight to the rest of council. At present, many of those “mushy middle” councilors vote with Ford because they see it as politically advantageous to do so. As their constituents, we need to show them that they are wrong. The Ford brothers are an easy target for our scorn and criticism, but directing all of it at them ultimately is a futile exercise. Time for us to acknowledge the reality that, at the end of the day, Ford really is just one vote on council – and, with this in mind, focus our efforts where it counts.

  • andrew97

    The left certainly knows how to run a campaign based on wishful thinking! Don't you remember Pantalone himself arguing that Smitherman would be “worse than Ford”? And that if Ford were elected, the city would be okay because the progressives on council would prevent him from doing anything at all, and basically run a parallel city government? I thought it was ridiculous even at the time, and in retrospect it's just pathetic and sad.

  • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

    Try anyway!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697100725 Erella Ganon

    “Ford, as he has told us many times, listens to the voters. Or, at least, he listens to the voters in his head”
    That is hysterical!
    but very sadly true.

    The ford brothers are uncaring, unsympathetic, have no empathy or kindness and belligerent to anyone that doesn't agree.

    How did we get into this very sad state?

  • andrew97

    On the contrary! But I do find it rather Pavlovian.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=711325839 Thomas Evers

    I think you missed a big one. He's not the guy people thought they were electing.

    The Ford election campaign constantly repeated how City Hall was full of spoiled government officials who were above the law and wasted taxpayer money. Elect him, and this would all change.

    Rob Ford as Mayor is living a Gravy-coated life at City Hall. He can do what he wants, and city Taxpayers should just shut up. And if his behavoir costs Taxpayer money, well, shut up about that too.

    <> Carphone law? Doesn't apply to Rob. A normal Taxpayer would be fined. Instead he flips off a mom and her child who pointed it out.

    <> Election Sign laws? They don't apply to Rob. Even George Smitherman was man enough to pay the fines that his campaign was levied. Instead, Rob writes a letter – after the deadline – to avoid paying back the city $13,362.25 to clean up his mess.

    <> Campaign Finance laws? They don't apply to Ford. If you're rich go ahead and skirt the law, and then the Taxpayer picks up the bill paying for committees and courts to debate whether you've broken the law or not.

    <> Office expense report obligations? Of course they don't apply to Ford. He doesn't spend a penny. But who pays for the cellphone bill so he can call while he's cruising the city? His allowance? Laws just get in his way.

    Not sure what to call this kind of behavoir. But it doesn't match what he portrayed himself as when he ran his election.

  • http://twitter.com/torontoist Torontoist

    Thanks, Ruhee D. for pointing that out.

  • http://twitter.com/torontoist Torontoist

    Thanks, Rob, it should be fixed now!

  • http://twitter.com/savannah_yyz Savannah Chisholm

    Shiner's just as opportunistic as any of them – let him know his seat's on the line and I'd be surprised if he ignored it.

  • Toronto_Dave

    As much as I agree with your completely valid points, I don't get the sense that Ford's supporters feel in any way “betrayed” by the mayor's hypocrisy over any particular issue. Ford's popularity has always been less “reality-based” and more about an emotional connection that people make with the guy.

    Simply put, they see themselves in him and are remarkably forgiving for his numerous shortcomings and indiscretions, no matter how egregious they may be. We saw this during the election, when every new thing that came out about him – things that we all thought would sink his campaign – only made him more popular. DUI arrest? Libel allegations? Insensitive remarks about gays or “Orientals” or people on bikes? No matter; we've all said stupid things from time to time and Rob's no different. And what about all those politicians and pundits who attacked him for that stuff? Well, gee, why couldn't they lay off the poor guy! As for the blatant hypocrisy on a variety of issues, his supporters are superbly talented at ignoring the obvious inconsistencies in the man's “story”.

    I refer you to Mark Jull's comment above. This isn't about facts or any sense of “reality”, and we're actually not going to get anywhere arguing with Ford and his supporters on that basis, as ridiculous as it may seem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Stemmler/644800361 Robert Stemmler

    What's Pavlovian about it?

  • Cameron Reid

    Thomas,
    that was point #3- anyone who bothered to inform themselves on the candidates could see what kind of Toronto Rob Ford was going to try to create.

    The biggest problem in this city, this province, this country with respect to elections is that voters simply do not bother to inform themselves on the issues and the candidates histories before voting.  Sure, we have lousy elected officials, but who put them in office?

    Which comes back to points 9 and 10- the REAL remedy here is an informed, engaged electorate.

  • isyouhappy

    Sure, we have lousy elected officials, but who put them in office?
    We can surely put some of the blame on our infotainment media conglomerates who feel that people are 'bored' by politics and therefore have to make it entertaining. They perpetuate stupidity, encourage apathy, or just feed into Ford's “government by crisis” agenda for page views/ sales.

  • http://twitter.com/JerikoKrasavic Jeriko Krasavic

    Paul Ainslie is my Councillor and he votes Rob Ford's way 100% ignoring what the majority of his constituents want. Not that We wanted him, only 18% of my neighbours voted for him.

  • ShabbaRich

    Rob Ford is mayor is because for too long, we in the creative class have sat on our ass, smug in the belief that ours is a great city, but being too preoccupied with our lattes and our reno'ed semis to contribute anything useful towards truly keeping this city great.

    Will the Ford disaster finally convince enough of us that community activism is not for other people, it is for us? Personally, I'm not a protesty-type guy, but I am certainly concerned enough about Ford to carry a sign at city hall to fight the service cuts. The creative class has got to stop believing that politics is somehow beneath us.

  • Cameron Reid

    Not really what I was saying.

    We, the citizens of a democratic state, are ultimately the ones responsible for our office-holders.

    It's always tempting to point the finger elsewhere, but at the end of the day, we voted them in.

  • http://twitter.com/MarkJull Mark Jull

    Except only about half of the people who could vote did vote, there are lots of people who live here and can't vote, and just less than half of those who did vote voted for Ford.

  • http://piorkowski.ca qviri

    Richard Florida called, he wants his coinage back.

  • http://twitter.com/biketo Herb

    These are the councillors, in my estimation, that are needed to get the 23 votes to shut down most of Fords' proposals (with % of votes aligned with Ford):

    Jaye Robinson 77.78% Ward 25: Don Valley West, councillor_robinson@toronto.ca, 416-395-6408
    Ron Moeser 76.47% Ward 44: Scarborough East, councillor_moeser@toronto.ca, 416-392-1373
    Chin Lee 60% Ward 41: Scarborough-Rouge River, councillor_lee@toronto.ca, 416-392-1375
    Josh Colle 52.63% (Ward 15: Eglinton-Lawrence, councillor_colle@toronto.ca, 416-392-4027)
    Josh Matlow 50% Ward 22: St. Paul's, councillor_matlow@toronto.ca, 416-392-7906
    Mary-Margaret McMahon 45% Ward 32: Beaches-East York, councillor_mcmahon@toronto.ca, 416-392-1376
    Ana Bailao 40% Ward 18: Davenport, councillor_bailao@toronto.ca, 4163927012

    The persistent, thoughtful public pressure on these councillors will work better if well organized. Perhaps a local ward group could be organized in each of these wards under an umbrella of an organization/coalition such as oneToronto.ca Each ward group is best if headed-up by local residents but with support from other wards, particularly where councillors are already on side. Such a set-up is already being used with some success for bike issues by the Toronto Cyclists Union.

    Herb

  • isyouhappy

    I didn't say 'blame the media for everything' my point had to do with how major corporate media framed the election and how it contributed to perpetuating Ford's “taxpayer” dialogue based on faux facts, and budgetary 'crisis' talking points. And how it's continuing to feed into this dialogue to stir the pot and create more divide(and page views/ ad sales). 

    I'm not passing the blame for how 'we' voted, I'm pointing out a large contributing factor to how 'we' voted for Ford. And is something that I find no one talks about when questioning how we got into the state that we're in right now. 

  • iSkyscraper

    Great post, but good luck getting the message out to the electorate, the ones (my own family included) who had their heads in the sand and ignored all the warning signs about Ford.  Most people have little time for local politics.

    Which issue may finally tip people off that Ford is not just some politician with a strong ideology but actually slow-witted and stubborn enough to cause real damage to the city?  Musings about waterfronts and NFL teams are not taken as serious, privatization has a ring of truth to it, Transit City was too abstract (LRT vs streetcar, hubba-wha?), Jarvis is too “downtown”, gay pride was not anything many people were into defending, and most of the dry budget talk has been dry budget talk.   But it seems like the libraries thing might just blow up — the errors in the report, the Tim Hortons vs branches, the Atwood ignorance….  could an educational issue like libraries finally trip up the college-dropout Mayor?

  • http://twitter.com/headonist Dorianne

    i agree that outrage isn't going to help, but i can't exactly stop feeling outraged. i'm all about taking practical action instead of just ranting online but the only 2 solutions proposed aren't very satisfying. i don't live in a swing councillor's ward. i can't exactly threaten not to vote for someone if they're never going to be on my ballot. as for the second, i get how Cyclists vs Drivers Total Smackdown is not useful, but i don't feel like i'm personally contributing to that as i neither cycle nor drive, nor do i feel library-proponents are actually saying “Tim Horton's sucks” – who doesn't drink coffee? it was Ford The Other who made that into a dichotomy, not us. so what do we do, what can i myself actively, productively DO? i feel impotent, so i'm left with nothing but my outrage.

  • JohnfromTO

    Jaye Robinson's ward also happens to be the home of the Sunnybrook Library, which has the lowest circulation in Toronto, presumably making it the most likely to be cut. Her constituents need to be informed.

    In addition, it turns out that 22 of the 32 lowest-circulation libraries are in wards represented by Ford allies/enablers. Three are in Doug Ford's ward. Four are in Mark Grimes'. Cllrs Mammoliti, DiGiorgio and Palacio each have two. Do their constituents know that their councillor might be putting their libraries at risk?

  • http://twitter.com/biketo Herb

    Good points – I'm not entirely certain either.

    One thought that comes to mind is to support residents in swing wards so that they can campaign against their councillors more effectively.

  • http://twitter.com/JALinTO Jeremiah Lankford

    There's no recall legislation in this city for political officials, correct?

    This article doesn't make me angry, just sad. I've come to accept this is who Toronto voted into office, and now we have to live with it. Not the mayor Toronto needs, but maybe the one Toronto deserves. Amalgamation going swell.

    People are regretting their votes now that the 'gravy train' was not as real as they were lead to believe, and there are cuts coming to services they use. It's just a cycle. People forget about the lies that come from Ford's political spectrum about taxes, and how they can let you have your cake and eat it too. Then they correct it next election, but then they forget the errors of their ways in the past after that and re-elect someone on the 'cut cut cut taxes' platform.

    It's a shame, because transit in this city is always caught in the middle of it. One mayor comes in, and spends his entire time in office planning for new transit. Then BAM, a new mayor is elected and he scraps the previous plans, wanting to make a legacy of their own. Transit City might not have been perfect, but it was the best shot Toronto had at really moving forward in transit in the next 20 years.

    Very sad, but at least the council does not seem to be buying into Ford's bullying tactics for the most part. Let's just hope they keep him in check for another three and a half years. Standing still as a city might be better than moving forward with the majority of Ford's plans at this point.

  • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

    These are good questions. Maybe Torontoist could do a piece on how to find & join concerned citizens groups in other wards?

  • Sol Chrom

    Good post, with one exception: in point 3, I'd take out the word “naive” and replace it with “stupid, irresponsible and / or immature.” There's nothing to be gained by pussyfooting around the obvious. 

    The Fords are what they are. Nothing's going to change that, short of a lobotomy (if they're truly sharing a brain, as David Olive suggests, then surely we can get a twofer). But voters who actually buy into their bullshit are not only demonstrating their laziness and selfishness — they are shrugging off their most fundamental responsibilities as citizens: the duty of active and critical engagement. When you adopt the easy, cynical approach and simply dismiss all politicians as liars and charlatans, you're enabling further dysfunctions in the process of governance and helping to devalue the whole notion of democratic citizenship. That's not naive. It's selfish, irresponsible and childish. And there's no reason to pretend otherwise.

  • HamutalDotan

    If you or anyone else reading happens to know of groups that are starting up please drop us a line!
    tips@torontoist.com

  • McKingford

    As a number of people have posted, voters, on aggregate, resist intellectual appeals – which explains, in large part, the success the Fords have had.  We aren't going to win back this city by *proving* that the Jarvis bike lanes are good policy or that the Sheppard extension/death of Transit City is idiotic.

    But one thing that *all* voters understand, and react viscerally to, is lying.

    And it has become abundantly clear that Rob Ford is nearly pathological in his inability to tell the truth.  This is where we have to hit him.  You want to win the messaging war, this is how to do it.  Numbers 1-7 really are about Ford's honesty, or lack thereof.  We can't make this about naive voters, we have to make it about the guy whose *lying* made dupes of those voters.

    This guy's instinct at any instance is to LIE – think of the drunken incident at the ACC, or the Florida DUI, and now with shooting the girl the finger while talking on his cell phone.

    Rob Ford's seminal campaign promise was “no cuts, guaranteed”. (also note his promise to leave the Jarvis bike lanes intact)

    And the important takeaway is that he didn't assume office only to find that things were so unexpectedly bad that he had to change course, or break his promise.  Rather the opposite – things were so *good* that he was able to (albeit shortsightedly stupid) pass a 2011 budget with a 0% tax hike.  So this is absolutely *not* the case of being duped by the previous administration.  To the extent that there are problems (and of course Rob Ford is LYING about the extent of them) with the 2012 budget, they were entirely foreseeable.  There is nothing new that has happened between the time Rob Ford made his most prominent campaign promise and now, except that Rob Ford found that the last administration actually left him more money than he thought.  So obviously the service cuts he is envisaging were planned all along.

    Rob Ford = LIAR.

    That has to be the mantra for the next 3 years.

  • Alix1

    His hardcore supporters feel that way, but there were a lot of people who liked the “no cuts, less tax” campaign promise and thought they'd give him a chance. One of my co-workers explained that she voted for him to see what he could do and people should give him a chance to see if he'd do a good job. She's a nice woman about my mom's age who makes about 30 or 40 grand a year- in other words, someone who'll be affected by cuts, and who won't think it's cool for the mayor to flip off a mom in front of her little girl. I bet good money she's disappointed with her choice and she'll be voting differently next time unless Ford changes drastically in the next couple years. It's people like her, reasonable people, who didn't feel heard by Miller, who will continue to feel unheard by Ford, who'll vote for someone else next time. Now we just need to find a mayoral candidate who understands that many of us are cyclists, drivers, pedestrians and TTC riders- sometimes all in the same day.

  • theycallmemrsinister

    Progressives on council aren't the problem.  Liberals on the other hand….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=711325839 Thomas Evers

    Back when Rob was the guy Etobicoke loved (because he called each of them, and got stuff done) the rest of Toronto thought he was just an angry, stingy weirdo. He had no support from his fellow councillors, even those now on his executive committee. To the lefties and Miller, he called is as he saw it, and wasn't too polite about it. 

    Then the campaign happened. Somehow he was transformed. Somehow he stayed on message. And it was a powerful message. Miller gave into the unions on the garbage strike. Council wastes your money on $12,000 retirement parties. St. Clair was ruined by a stupid streetcar. Your taxes are wasted, and they are too high and it's all controlled by downtown elites. Rob doesn't waste money. He hates unions. And he will cut your taxes. He won't let streetcars ruin anymore streets. He'll cut council's budget. And he certainly won't give downtown elites the time of day. He. will. respect. the. taxpayer.

    The press tried to highlight what they thought were flaws. But most of the 'flaws' reenforced the everyman persona that Kouvalis was crafting. Haven't we all had a drink before driving? Exposing corrupt council deals and getting accused of libel? Assaulted by the political-correctness squad for telling it like it is? These events really just showed he wasn't like all those politicians people were fed up with.

    Not everyone who voted for him was a rabid supporter. Most were just pissed about the annoying things in the city. And Toronto is more annoying if you live in the suburbs. Here was a guy like them, who would represent them and tame those downtown elites. And it would be painless. Their services would only get better. No cuts, just trimming the fat.

    But the illusion of Rob in the campaign is quickly wearing out. He hasn't cut anything yet, but it looks like he will. Instead of being 'everyman' he's starting to look like a rich, spoiled guy who bullies people to get his way. And it's one thing to get over-served and act out at a hockey game. It's another to flip off a mom and her kid while phoning and driving. (I'm watching this story on The National as I type this.) And once the numbers get crunched down to how much your property tax goes up, your water bill goes up, your trash fees go up, and your sidewalk stops being plowed the rose will really be off the bloom. Ford's support was based on cutting fat—not making Toronto a crappy place to live. 

    The councillors who aligned them with this guy to be a part of the power base may start wavering when the calls start coming in. Karen Stintz is already backing away from the library idiocy. Hopefully this is the start of council starting to work for Toronto again, instead of against it.

  • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto

    There's a really excellent book called Policy Paradox that I had to read for a course last year. From the chapter titled “Facts”:

    The rational ideal presupposes the existence of neutral facts—neutral in the sense that they only describe the world, but do not serve anybody's interest, promote any value judgments, or exert persuasive force beyond the weight of their correctness. Yet facts do not exist independent of interpretive lenses, and they come clothes in words and numbers.

    [...]

    Shaping of information is an inevitable part of communication and an integral part of strategic behaviour. The rational ideal is false in its pretense that information is neutral or that people are primarily rational and independent creatures. But the preceptoral model is equally false in its presumption that indoctrination occurs only where there is a single political authority dispensing propaganda through communcations media and schools.

    …in short, you make a good and recognized point. I think there are two things that need to happen, though. One is the concrete, street-level illustration of Ford's policies being bad for people, as you suggest. But that's not enough; I said last week that arguing against cuts cedes the point that cuts are the thing Council should be discussing. This is point #4 above.

    The other piece must be the framing of better alternatives and actions—not the status quo, nor a duller axe for Ford to cut with, but significantly distinct ideas—and the portrayal of those as the thing to beat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frederick-W-Harrison/719636773 Frederick W Harrison

    Good day, I'm Bob Ford and this is my brother Doug. How's it going, eh?
    Can you believe the hosers in Hogtown elected me mayor and my brother a city council member? Somebody must've put something in the beer ahead of election day which is good by us since we get our own downtown parking spots. Only problem is that there are no Tim Hortons in City Hall but we're gonna fix that by turning the public libraries into Timmy Ho's. Maybe even sell McDonalds some of the animals from Riverdale Farm. Lookin' forward to some back bacon on my Big Mac… Beauty, eh? Just remember that I don't like gravy with my fries.

  • z00m3r

    This is great. Could I pass this on to some Facebook groups campaigning for the local zoos, public libraries etc?

  • z00m3r

    I noticed in the latest Star article (yesterday, GTA section) about the libraries/Margaret Atwood thing that apparently one of the 3 branches in Doug Ford's ward (Northern Elms – Kipling & Rexdale) has experienced an increase in checkouts of 15% this last June, compared to the same period the previous year. We need to get the word out to all voters about stuff like that.

    Could I pass your comment on to the Facebook group(s) campaigning for the public libraries?

  • JohnfromTO

    Of course! Please share widely!

  • http://twitter.com/MarkJull Mark Jull

    I get the point that book is making, and I generally agree. But I think this is a bit different than what I was saying. By 'facts don't matter' I mean the facts like the cost of labour in the city (Ford said 80% of budget when it's just under 50%). 

    I like the direction of your last point. We need to develop a different narrative – something emotional such as 'pride' in/of the city, a 'vision' for the city, etc.

  • Toronto_Dave

    Both you and Alix1 are probably right in that I primarily characterized Ford's most hardcore supporters and perhaps drew too much of a generalization. A sign, I think, that I need to spend less time battling Ford trolls over at the Globe and Mail comment boards. It's enough to give one a distorted view of things, to say the least.

  • http://paul.kishimoto.name Paul Kishimoto
  • Ivriniel

    “The mayor's invitation to all Torontonians to come down to City Hall and address the Executive Committee this week notwithstanding, this administration has shown deep contempt for the public. “

    This morning Giorgio Mammoliti was quoted as saying something to the effect  that it would be the same old group of people coming down to complain at City Hall and that Rob Ford's supporters are too busy working to be able to come down.  He's also putting forward a motion to limit speakers to 3 minutes instead of 5.

    So even with the invitation to come down to City Hall, the Ford campaign is showing contempt for the people of Toronto.

  • EDMUNDOCONNOR

    It could be worse. You could have Mammoliti.

  • http://twitter.com/randyfmcdonald Randy McDonald

    And the fat jokes are ridiculous. Yes, let's raise public discourse in Toronto to a high level!

  • rich1299

    I can't say it often enough, email your councilor, and a few others while you;re at it, to let them know exactly what you think about whatever cuts, just remember to be polite and articulate so they don;t just dismiss your email as being from some crank, and remind them that you always vote in every election. Here's where you  can find your councilor's email address as well those of others,  http://app.toronto.ca/im/counc…    whenever I send an email to my councilor, Mark Grimes, I usually included a bunch of other councilors as well and try to select from the left, right and middle politically so that my opinion on whatever cut or risk of cut gets heard by as many as possible.

  • rich1299

    I would to strongly encourage people to speak out against the threat that Toronto Animal Services may be closed down or privatized. here's the FB group  https://www.facebook.com/pages…  as well Montreal tried privatizing its animals services with predictable horrific results as private corporation puts profits over the well being of the animals, here's a documentary of the horrific conditions at the privatized Montreal animals services, very graphic, be warned, its in french but english sub-titles are available by clicking on the CC tab   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…     and here's a report form the CBC on the situation with Montreal's experimentation with privatized animals services   http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/…    

    Please keep Toronto's homeless pets in mind when opposing cuts to city services and email your city councilor and/or as many of the rest of them as you can to oppose closing or privatizing Toronto Animal Services, you might want to include the links to the documentary and the CBC report to give your councilor some background on why profit driven animal shelters will always result in cruelty to the animals under their care by cutting corners to maximize profits.

  • shyjohn

    I have absolutely no  disaggreement with the FORD BROTHERS

    My Councillor is Peggy Nash (NDP) of course I would never vote NDP my self, obviously my Candidate did not win

    As far as the Brothers Ford are concerned I have yet to see one thing I disagree with.

    This article was of course written by The Toronto Star which is only a opinion nothing else just a opinion

    The days of ethical journalism are long in the past which is to say Journalists use to simply report the news not give there opinion just simply report the news

    Now that we have the internet we can simply surf the net for the info we need on any subject and not have to rely on some Journalistic opinion

    I do not like the idea of some Journalist telling me what I should and should not think

    whether you like someone or not is not the case simply report an unbiased truth that my friend  that  is ethical journalism

    Toronto does not like being led  like sheep

  • dsmithhfx

    As good as Miller now looks in hindsight (and frankly an overripe turnip would look good), I believe he and his allies are substantially responsible for the successful Ford bid, through a combination of extremely poor optics (viz. the infamous retirement party, Gambrioni, the garbage strike), and chronic failures of leadership during the last year of his tenure, which he apparently spent in hiding, writing a book. And I sure do hope it was a good book.

    That and John Tory not running, probably due to some deft stick-handling by Nick Kouvalis.

  • dsmithhfx

    >Journalists use to simply report the news not give there opinion just simply report the news

    This is an unremarkably naive view of journalism (sadly), which has always been about framing events, choosing what to report (and perhaps more importantly, what NOT to report), in order to serve media owners objectives, with a veneer of so-called objectivity… are you a Sun reader, perchance? Baaaaah.

  • shyjohn

    actually I also believe the Toronto Sun is biased as well as most media otlets

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713035669 Jonathan Blackburn

    “As far as the Brothers Ford are concerned I have yet to see one thing I disagree with.”

    - Fair enough, that's your right. I don't agree.

    “This article was of course written by The Toronto Star which is only a opinion nothing else just a opinion”

    - An opinion you disagree with and therefore, in your mind, invalid.

    “The days of ethical journalism are long in the past which is to say Journalists use to simply report the news not give there opinion just simply report the news.”

    - Turn off the blinkers off son, stop being disingenuous, and leave the 'liberal media bias' nonsense at the door. Somehow I doubt you'd level such a criticism at the Sun, or the National Post.

    “Now that we have the internet we can simply surf the net for the info we need on any subject and not have to rely on some Journalistic opinion.”

    - So you're suggesting that Anyone's Blog is relatively free of slant or bias when compared with a newspaper? That's just lazy. The reason it's lazy is because you can troll various other opinions and hijack the bits you like to cobble together your view on the matter. You shouldn't be afraid to have your beliefs challenged. It might make you stop and think.
    “I do not like the idea of some Journalist telling me what I should and should not think.”

    - No, but you don't seem to mind your Mayor doing the same, simply because you happen to agree with him.
    “Whether you like someone or not is not the case simply report an unbiased truth that my friend  that  is ethical journalism.”

    - Spot on. But the fact of the matter is, you can criticize just about every media source in the country of being unethical (the term “yellow journalism” comes to mind).

    Toronto does not like being led  like sheep.

    - I couldn't disagree with you more on this one. Otherwise, we would not have elected someone who is really just a bully. And we all know there's only one way to deal with a bully, isn't there?

    BTW: if you're thinking “another tree-hugging pinko” in order to conveniently dismiss a counter-viewpoint, think again.

  • shyjohn

    Jonathan Blackburn wrote, in response to shyjohn

    Shyjohn

    different points of view

    Let us agree to disagree

    As Humans we all have our one points of view.

    Just for the record I also don't subscribe to the National Post or the Toronto Sun which I find very offensive The Toronto Sun That Is.

  • http://twitter.com/KenHunt Ken Hunt

    Testing commenting

    • Anonymous

      This is a test of replying

  • Key

    Good article. The ultimate problem is the naivety/ignorance of voters – what did they expect? … and what can be done to produce a more informed public?key

  • Bob

    Ahhh you exteme leftists… vive la toronto!! No end to (left wing) services but you want some one else to pay for them!! Apparently you DON’T have jobs yourselves!

    • Clairedelaluz

      So. Services are Left-Wing and people who want services in their cities don’t have jobs. Obviously! Geez.

      • WillMan1

        No, services are not inherently left wing, of course, but advocating for higher taxes and bigger government certainly is!

        • fidgefodge

          WillMan: You make no sense. So are biased generalized statement that are incorrect something that is inherit of “right wing” advocates? People like yourself who make these boxes of wild allegations about a group of people are part of the problem and why politicians, no matter the colour, always win.

        • Dave

          That because ,for the most part, they are Government / City workers , teachers and other workers that produce nothing .

          • OgtheDim

            LOL

            Yes, us right of centre people who think Ford is not really a conservative are SOOOOOO left of centre.

          • WillMan1

            Just wondering – what has he done and/or advocated that makes him not a real conservative?

          • DuddyKravitz

            What an ultra maroon.

  • Guest
  • mdouble

    Your points are all entirely relevant and I think rather conservative given the folly which Ford has made of city politics. His personal behviour should be a strong enough indication that trust in his judgement should be questioned by anyone with basic common sense. The notion that any of this has a left of right political spin misses the point entirely. Lunicy has no left or right spin.

    People from other cities, and other countries are astonished that Ford has not been sacked by virture of his behaviour to date. They like many other media watchers must certainly think the people of Toronto are either excessivly tolerent or a pack of idiots.

    Perhaps Toronto exists in some version of the Twilight Zone where reality is subjective. Things are not what they appear to be, but rather only what one says they are – and Rob Ford makes the rules.

    • CanuckleDragger

      In the USA, lunacy is definitely the right. They just passed a law in Georgia so you can pack a firearm in a church or an airport or pretty much any where because more guns make you safer. The right refuses to raise taxes on the rich or corporations. The right wing supreme court allows the wealthy to buy the Presidency. Congress is so gerrymandered that it’s nearly impossible for the Republicans to loose it. I think it’s pretty safe to say the right wing has ruined the USA. Harper is trying hard to do the same to Canada.

  • Dave

    Yellow Journalism Rag.
    I tested it as I did The Toronto Star and my dog won’t even defecate on it.

    • nottheendoftheworld

      Your dog doesn’t like truth, it seems. Please provide an example of a Star article as regards the Brothers Mayor that wasn’t true.

  • Dave

    So you prefer well dressed la de da fake people who are SO smart that they know what’s best for you and smile in your face while they steal your wallet.

  • Hercster

    Rob Ford and Don Cherry are almost perfect bookends in the clown section. Don should buy Robbie a new suit though.