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2011 Villain: Rob Ford

Nominated for: cowardice.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past twelve months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.


Earlier this year, a Maclean’s cover story referred to Rob Ford as “Canada’s toughest mayor.” This was extremely funny, because if there is one word that is simply wrong to use when describing Rob Ford, it is “tough.” A lot of people like to believe that Rob Ford is tough because he is loud, or because he is forceful, or because he is rude. But bellicosity isn’t bravery. It’s quite possible to be an arrogant loudmouth without an ounce of toughness in you. And that’s exactly the sort of person Rob Ford is.

Three words describe Rob Ford’s first year as the mayor of Toronto: run and hide. When Pride came around and people asked Rob Ford to give up spending that annual cottage weekend with his family in order to do his job, Rob Ford ran and hid. Rob Ford has been doing everything he can to hide from the Toronto Star for more than a year now. Rob Ford, after claiming he has nothing to hide from the Compliance Audit Committee, is running and hiding from them. Rob Ford is at this point notorious for letting his brother Doug talk to the media for him, because Rob Ford is a man who runs and hides in advance.

Rob Ford even felt the need to run and hide from Mary Walsh, who has not been edgy (much less frightening) for the better part of two decades. Conservative media in Canada complained incessantly about the CBC’s apparent error in reporting what Rob Ford said on his 911 call, which neatly glossed over the fact that Rob Ford called 911 when confronted with media.

And then there are all the lesser sorts of toughness to consider. Brave people can deal with facts that aren’t convenient to their positions; it takes strength of character to fairly evaluate facts that demonstrate you might be wrong. Rob Ford is notorious for simply making up whatever “fact” supports his position and then claiming that it is true. Tough people can deal with situations that don’t go as they planned; it takes moral strength to chart a new course of action when things don’t go as you expected or hoped. When things don’t go as Rob Ford hoped, he either quietly abandons his plans or lies about them. Rob Ford campaigned on lies, and blatant lies at that. A tough man in his position would fess up and admit he was mistaken about Toronto’s finances (or, alternatively, admit that he purposefully deceived the Toronto electorate so he could become mayor, and the question of which of the two of these scenarios is more accurate relies on your belief as to whether Rob Ford is more greatly motivated by malice or stupidity), but Rob Ford isn’t doing that.

Rob Ford is not a tough man. Rob Ford is a coward. The sooner we all recognize that, the better off we will all be.

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