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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.


  • miro

    The only time I will vote for Rob Ford.

  • Steve Fisher

    There’s plenty of examples of Rob Ford running and hiding this year, true, but I thought this was another significant one: He blew off attending his own (and first) Mayor’s Arts Awards Lunch (and probably having to answer uncomfortable questions about City arts funding commitments) to attend a Don Bosco High School football game. (

    More than just fear, it was, like Pride weekend, another example of Ford placing his own hobbies and interests ahead of his duties as Mayor.

  • Anonymous

    Rob Ford is penny wise, dollar foolish.
    Butts heads with Dalton McGuinty over 2 health nurses prior to his election.
    So when the Liberals win a strong minority government, and Dalton is still premier, he essentially tells Rob Ford he won’t be receiving any extra money for transit from the province until the Eglington line is complete. While the project is suppose to come under budget, Rob Ford won’t be able to access any of that extra funds until AFTER its built. Way to go Rob Ford… manages a way to deprive millions in transit funding because he couldn’t play nice and hire 2 nurses that the province was going to pay for.

    • Testu

      It’s possible that has more to do with the fact that he cancelled the already approved and paid for Transit City plan (almost the first thing he did as mayor) to implement a more expensive and time consuming plan to bury the Eglington LRT and skip building the rest of the lines.

      The province has doubts that the much more expensive Eglington line will actually come in under budget and so they aren’t promising funds that may not be available once it’s done.

  • Anonymous

    Bang on.

  • Jim Taylor

    Maybe instead of Ford being the villain, Torontoist should have featured the 50% of Toronto voters who were too lazy/cowardly to show up and vote in the Mayoral election.

    Screw you Toronto. You got the mayor you deserve.

  • Mary T. Hynes

    I think he’s a shoein. Nobody else could come close,

  • Kontrolsphreak

    Impeach this Idiot before he destroys this city!!!

    • Mary T. Hynes

      If only we could.

  • luganman

    If Rob Ford wasn’t being propped up by 2 conservative talk radio stations and the Toronto Sun he would have almost no support. People that supported him originally had no idea that he was in way over his head until it was too late. He has a little over a year left on his mandate, most of his key people have left his employ or have been fired and what remains is not gonna be pretty. Rob does not learn from mistakes.