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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.


  • Anonymous

    That,s a great summary, it is difficult to get into his actual policies when so much is standing in front of them.

  • Anonymous

    Well, that pretty much sums it up.

  • Mitchell

    Tell us how you really feel, Christopher! :)

    Actually, it’s hard to argue with any of the points you’ve made, though I’m sure some folks, paid or otherwise, will try. It truly is sad there are still some people out there who will yelp “he helps kids” in response to the many, many reasons why this man is unfit for office.

    • Anonymous

      There are plenty in this city who will see this list of blunders, interpret it as a personal attack, and vote for him again out of sympathy.

      • Mitchell

        To which I would say: It’s politics. And to stand there and complain about “personal attacks” against Ford when he’s clearly incapable of implementing his agenda because of his numerous missteps suggests a desire on his supporters’ part to wallow in vicarious victimhood rather than get things done. Which is sad, on so many levels.

        • Anonymous

          And that’s exactly what it is. Ford consistently presents himself as their Regular Guy avatar at city hall, and any failure on his part is really due to a conspiracy or personal vendetta against him, and them by extension.

          There’s no doubt in my mind Ford will be re-elected, either in a by-election or in 2014, unless a single strong progressive candidate is presented as his sole rival.

  • Ian Gray

    I will call you “stitch face”

  • 4D NAtiON 4EVER

    subways, subways, subways! It’s what the TAXPAYERS want! They don’t want these damned streetcars blocking up our city! LRTs, call ‘em what you want, it’s still fancy streetcars. World class cities! St. Clair disaster! GRAVY TRAIN! Taxpayers! SUBWAYS!


    • AllanG


      • 4D NAtiON 4EVER


        • AllanG


          • 4D NAtiON 4EVER


            GO ROB GO, don’t let these leftis get you down.

          • AllanG


  • Rob Westall

    Kong Ford

  • AllanG

    And let’s not forget the audit of the “mayor’s” campaign fundraising and expenses. If allegations prove to be true, it will also show that Ford cheated in order to win election in 2010.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with the rationale outlined in the first paragraph for not re-naming Rob Ford as ‘super-villain’: it only provides a convenient cover to those who, collectively and individually bear far more responsibility for his mayoralty and all that followed.

    • Canadianskeezix

      First off, the 50% of the electorate that didn’t bother voting in the 2010 election are a prime candidate for Super Villain.

      • Anonymous

        Perhaps, but we are talking about 2012. Rob Ford has had plenty of enablers on Council and elsewhere, allies who are actively pushing destructive and harmful policies that predate his election. Insofar as Rob is arguably non compos, Dougie makes a far more plausible ‘super-villain’, if such is truly needed.

        • Canadianskeezix

          I wasn’t saying they were the only potential Super Villain. There is a list, for sure.

          However, the the 50% of the electorate who didn’t bother voting in the 2010 election are Super Villains for the full four-year term. Their lack of involvement and civic engagement is the gift that keeps giving, year after year, as it is reflected in the Council we have and the political calculations and positioning happening today.

      • Jess
        • Canadianskeezix

          Not sure what that link is supposed to mean. dsmithhfx was talking about Ford’s enablers being the real super villains. I agree, with people who can’t bother voting being at the top of the list. Maybe you agree. Hard to tell.

          • Anonymous

            Well, what exactly are the motives of all the people who don’t vote? Do they all have the same reason? Is it all down to apathy? Perhaps not. Are they ipso facto ‘villains’? Perhaps not. Sorry, but I cannot accept such a facile and indiscriminate assignment of blame (and for the record, I did vote and do vote).

          • Anonymous

            Given the alternatives (which still involve showing up at the polling station), apathetic describes every single eligible voter who didn’t cast a ballot.

          • Anonymous

            And is that your considered opinion, or a decree?

          • Anonymous


  • MrFlagg

    Unfortunately for the author douchebag of the year is a more contested category.

    • Anonymous

      Go away Neil…

    • Mitchell

      And that, ladies and gents, is the sum total of what Ford’s followers bring to public discourse.
      “I have many issues with Ford’s ability to lead, not least of which is the seething contempt with which he holds any institution or official that dares to insist he’s beholden to anything resembling ‘the rules.’”
      “Oh yeah? Well, you’re a commie pinko leftist whiner dummyhead. So there!”

  • CV

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Excellent article, Christopher. Rob Ford should just be a football coach, and let someone else who’s actually capable, run our city.

  • joto

    Well said Christopher, and it must be.said again and again. We can’t shrug our shoulders and roll our eyes and turn away; we need to respond collectively to the blatant incompetence the Ford’s represent. Toronto needs leaders who have vision, can actually articulate it and collaborate to implement it. The way Rob Ford uses the term ‘lefties’ implies that anyone not as conservative as he is should be treated with disdain and disrespect. So he is declaring that he does not represent the diverse population of the city, in fact he openly insults a large sector. People should be deeply offended by his divisiveness and ignorance.
    The Emperor has no clothes, sophistication, professionalism, or competence. poor guy doesn’t even realize it.

  • Anonymous

    I was waiting for a nice concise summary of Ford’s blunders all on one page. You should really type this essay into Wikipedia for everyone’s future reference to The Worst North American Mayor In Decades and I’m Including Marrion Berry and Jerry Springer.

    I disagree with you on the international joke part though. Robbie smashed through that particular barrier in 2012 with gusto. We had:

    - the embarrassing trip to Chicago, remembered only for “not one red cent”, “Winnipeg” and being called “obnoxious” by a snarky Chicago newsblog.

    - the Wall Street Journal noticing the utterly ridiculous Mayoral Weigh-Ins.

    - the New York Times dispatching reporters from their Ottawa bureau to write about Ford’s war with the Star

    - American and international blogs dedicated to design and urban issues now regularly refer to Rob Ford as a nemesis, a barrier to good planning and one who casts a massive,dark shadow over the city.

    - the BBC took note of Ford’s astonishing removal of bike lanes and his devotion to plastic bags.

    - and let’s not forget the utter destruction of Ford (and Toronto, for that matter) in this negative essay in the Economist.

    Yes, you could say Rob Ford put Toronto on the international map in 2012. In the very worst way.

  • Mark

    Well I just clicked unsubscribed button

    • vampchick21

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Mitchell

      Oh noes! Mark can’t handle a columnist doing that — whadya call it — columnizing thing! And he’s taking his vengeance by going somewhere else!
      Funny, I can think of a certain mayor who responds the same way when someone says something he doesn’t like to hear. Maybe if we’re lucky, Mark will respond to this column from the safe confines of his radio booth, hermetically sealed off from anyone with a differing point of view.

    • Dave

      …But of course you did, Mark. It’s what any sensible person would do at the first sign that their preconceived notions have been challenged.

      Run away! Run away!

  • Laka Dukus

    Brian McLachlan, you are so full of shit, the ones who divided the city between downtown and the suburbs are the same left wing special interest groups saying suburbs doesn’t matter.

    Downtown needs the DRL because of all the people going there, yet towers are being built in North York and Scarborough, nothing for them.

    Transit City wasn’t funded or fully planned. Don Mills LRT wasn’t finished planning. no funding too. WWLRT and Jane LRT too.

    Finch/Eglinton weren’t fully funded. Scarborough-Malvern was never funded at all.

    Forcing him to attend PFLAG, wow, how undemocratic. Every Mayor gets invited to so many events, you expect Ford to attend ALL of them? Miller continuously ignored the suburbs.

    Ford reigned in the unions, got rid of the VRT. Oh yeah, oh yeah, let me guess, it is ok to charge extra for car drivers yet a crime to charge cyclists (license them) even though they also use the road.

    Look at the abuse at the TCHC board. Look at all the special interest groups who were getting free money.

    Typical pathetic with no integrity low-life scum like you.

    Nothing Rob Ford ever does is wrong.

    Instead of letting the arts community fundraise for themselves all taxpayers have to pay for them.

    Let’s forget that so many scam artists are abusing TCHC.

    Let’s forget that the downtown political scum are pimping out the poor. everything has to be free. Instead of users who actually use those services to pay for them instead of everyone else.

    • Testu

      Err, did you fail to read the byline or do you take such offence to a comical representation of a man with a football for a face that you called out the illustrator? You addressed a (nonsensical) 12 paragraph rant to the wrong person. Nicely done.

      You do realize this article was written by Christopher Bird right?

    • Anonymous

      “Nothing Rob Ford ever does is wrong.” I think we have a troll here, folks.

      • Dave

        I’m always amazed by the degree of seething, frothing rage these Fordbots routinely spew on comment boards. And yet all that anger is never enough to produce a coherent argument, sadly.

    • Anonymous

      “Brian McLachlan”

      Well, your incoherent rant certainly got off to a good start…

      “Nothing Rob Ford ever does is wrong.”

      *jumps out the window*

  • Anonymous

    He is not a true villain. Imagine a tv show about this past year in Toronto. Everyone would be too busy laughing themselves silly. Could you imagine trying to sell this story as non-fiction? No one would believe you. He is a pathetic little man who still have followers. Go figure. This man rose to his level of incompetence when he became a councillor. He’d make one hell of an assistant football coach for a Pop Warner team. Hope he get’s the opportunity real soon.

    • Anonymous


    • Anonymous

      “Everyone would be too busy laughing themselves silly.”

      Isn’t that the Joker’s modus operandi too? Hmmm…

  • James

    When you guys get tired of him, you can send him down here to Texas. I’m sure the Republican Tea Party will run him for Congress, although his resume is weak in the “derision of women” area. And the international joke stutus? Nailed it!

  • Jackington

    Both Rob “Cut Everything in Sight” Ford and David “Spend, Spend, Spend” Miller sucked as Mayors. One got elected because of the gravy train while the other was elected because of his plans to cancel a bridge to the island airport. Torontonians can’t seem to elect a good mayor.

  • no_left_turn

    and…the witch hunt continues for Rob Ford from another piece of crap tabloid. Oh brother.