Doug Ford has taken to malls for book signings, and to bolster his image. Let's not forget who he is.
The inherent problem in reviewing Ford Nation, the new book by Doug Ford (and supposedly also Rob Ford, and definitely not a ghostwriter of any kind, no sir) is that it tells the significant events of the Ford family’s life almost entirely from Doug’s perspective. The reason this is an inherent problem is because Doug Ford is a wholly unreliable narrator who is willing to bullshit about literally anything at any given time, because Doug Ford does not give a shit about anything other than what Doug Ford wants. We know this because we read his terrible book.
Ford Nation: Two Brothers, One Vision—the True Story of the People’s Mayor is chock-full of misleading, disingenuous, false statements—and lies, which, given the Ford track record, was to be expected. To catalogue all the crap Doug spews in his book would both take forever and be completely redundant, considering Torontoist has been covering Doug Ford’s blatant lies and/or overwhelming ignorance for six years at this point. Just click the “Doug Ford” tag on Torontoist and you will get lots more of the endless font of mistruth Doug has honed himself to become; most of what is untrue in Ford Nation are just repeats from Doug’s greatest hits over the years.
Certainly, nobody should rely on Ford Nation for a retelling of events which bear any resemblance to what has actually happened in recent Toronto and Ontario political history—not least because according to Doug, all the political successes of the Ford family happened primarily because they were either his idea or because his support was so crucial. It is amazing to see how Doug becomes the star of every story he tells, with his wit, intellect, and generosity overflowing in every instance. So blatant is Doug’s self-impression that this reviewer was genuinely surprised that at no point during the book does Doug hint that he has a large penis.
That having been said, it is still interesting to read what Doug considers evidence of his good character. For example, early in the book, Doug spends most of a chapter listing off incidences of how he protected and stuck up for Rob when they were kids. Buried in the middle of numerous sports stories (wherein Doug always takes space to mention that he was a better hockey player than Rob and his football teams were better than Rob’s and good lord, Doug, it’s your dead brother, you can stop competing for attention now) you find this little tidbit:
I loved being Rob’s big brother. When I was working at Canada Packers in the summers of my teenage years, I’d come home late at night after my shift to find the upper floors of our house almost unbearably hot. We rarely used the air conditioning in the house, and one of the only fans was in Rob’s room. Rob was probably 10 or 11 at this time. I would creep into his room, unplug the fan and bring it back to my room. Then, once I had it going, I could count one minute—maybe less—before Rob would come along with his blanket and his pillow, half asleep, and lie down on a mattress on the floor beside my bed.
Doug clearly thinks the point of this story is that he was a good big brother, which is funny because it’s actually a story about a selfish teenager who simply took a fan from his sleeping brother’s room and correctly assumed that his little brother wouldn’t raise a stink. That Doug includes this in a chapter that’s mostly full of anecdotes about him buying Li’l Rob hockey cards and skates is simply kind of weird.
To be clear, Ford Nation is a terrible book for many more reasons than Doug Ford being almost continuously full of shit or our disagreements with his politics. For one, Doug Ford is simply not a very good writer—he indulges in cliché all the time, writes at about an eighth-grade level, repeats himself frequently, and will offer any number of asides throughout the text that are mostly meaningless. The result is a tedious and dull slog of a book that seems much longer than it is. That’s after accounting for all the handicaps he’s given himself, including the not-quite-officially-large-print-but-it’s-close font size of the text, or the transcripts of Rob’s speeches sprinkled throughout so Doug can make his booklet seem more like a book.
But the point of this book is not to be a good book about politics (it isn’t) or to be a defence of the Ford mayoralty (although it certainly tries to do that). The point of this book is evident by the cover, with a reasonably nice image of Rob looking pensive Photoshopped right next to Doug’s eternally creepy dead-eyed stare: the point of this book is a blatant attempt to transfer all the affection Rob Ford’s voters had for him to Doug, who has never really held their affection or loyalty as much as Rob did. That is why the book’s central thesis is that Doug Was Always There, that Doug was always the one guiding and advising the Ford family’s political dynasty, that Doug knew and worked with Rob on every idea Rob ever had—but somehow managed to completely blind himself to Rob’s substance abuse difficulties, which were an open secret for most of his brother’s mayoralty. It’s why Doug opens the book with an explanation that he and Rob meant to write the book together, but Rob got sick and told Doug to finish it for him.
That’s the point of the book. It’s the real reason this book matters: it is a statement of intent. Doug Ford is going to run for political office again, and probably fairly soon. Consider this your warning.