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politics

2012 Villain: Rob Ford

The one nominee who gets a category all his own is very lamentably the mayor of Toronto.

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 12 months. From December 10 to 19, we’ll unveil the nominees, grouped by category. Vote for your favourites from each batch, every single day! On December 19 and 20 the winners from each category go head-to-head in the final round of voting, and on December 21, we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

This much is true: many here at Torontoist did not want to include Rob Ford as a Villain this year, because Rob Ford is a Villain every year and it’s getting kind of predictable, and maybe we could just give him a Lifetime Achievement Award or something so somebody else can win Supervillain of the Year for once.

This writer does not agree. Rob Ford is a pathetic joke of a mayor, easily the worst mayor this city has ever had. He is a coward, a liar, a bully, and frankly an entitled, spoiled brat of a politician who throws tantrums whenever he does not get his way, which is now often, thanks to his utter inability to work with people who refuse to be his supplicants. He makes it clear on a daily basis that he is not smart enough to be mayor: he does not understand the job or what it entails, let alone the nuances of politics and law that a mayor must know in order to be minimally competent. He is a national joke approaching international joke status, if he is not there already. As long as Rob Ford continues to be the worst element of Toronto municipal politics, then he deserves to be a Villain. It’s just that simple. If this means he’ll have a record-breaking streak of appearances, then that’s his problem, not ours.

If you disagree with that… well, let’s take a deep breath and see if we can get out everything Rob Ford did this year that was stupid, selfish, dishonest, or simply mean-spirited in one sentence: Rob Ford became irrelevant to the 2012 budget debate, then to the city’s transit strategy; during the transit debate Ford misrepresented expert opinions, went on the subway to whine at regular people, and played politically divisive games by trying to pit Toronto’s downtown against its suburbs; after that meeting he got Gary Webster fired (which cost the City over half a million dollars and did untold damage to staff morale); he had to be extensively pressured to attend even a PFLAG flag raising, and of course refused to participate in Pride at all; he threatened to attack a Toronto Star reporter (and then threatened a media blackout if said reporter was not removed from the City Hall beat); he repeatedly skipped out of city council meetings to go coach his football team and had his staff do so as well; his office may have improperly influenced the appointment of city officials; he repeatedly attacked the City’s ombudsman and integrity commissioner; he got special treatment from the City for his private company; he demonstrated that he didn’t know what a public/private partnership is; promised at Ford Fest that his next mayoral campaign, over two years away, had just begun; he was caught reading while driving on the Gardiner and passing open streetcar doors in his car; he explained, in the wake of gun violence, that “no one helps youth more than I do” when asked why he voted against federal anti-gang funding and community development; he was generally not around at City Hall doing his job; got sued for libel; and oh, throughout the year he acted like an ass with his brother on their radio show, which he used to slag his political opponents, violate the City’s Code of Conduct by attacking the City’s medical officer of health, and suggest that we use immigration laws to cut down on gun crime.

Also he fell down while trying to play football.

Nowhere in that list have we even discussed Rob Ford getting tossed out of office, because it deserves special attention. Rob Ford was warned—repeatedly—that speaking and voting about a matter in which he had a personal financial interest was against the law. Rob Ford, by his own admission, never bothered to read the councillor’s handbook explaining this sort of thing even though he has held municipal office for over a decade. Rob Ford’s defense was, in essence, to say he was too incompetent to be held accountable for violating the law. This says far too much about Rob Ford, a man who was given quite literally every chance to avoid getting booted from office and who absolutely refused to take those chances. It is very likely that, if at any point whatsoever during this entire fiasco, Rob Ford had simply admitted he was in the wrong and apologized, Paul Magder’s suit against him would have failed. But for that to have happened, we would have needed a different Rob Ford.

Of course, Rob Ford is who he is and in defiance of a judge who has ordered him removed from office has declared that, whether it’s in a by-election or the next scheduled campaign, he will run again—despite by all appearances not even particularly liking being mayor, because it is his mayoralty, and nobody else gets to have it. Because our mayor is a goddamned child, a man who reflexively lies when he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and only learns a lesson when he gets a spanking, if even then.

Rob Ford is one of Torontoist‘s Villains. Rarely, if ever, has a nomination been more deserved.

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