It’s happened: Rob Ford has said or done something embarrassing. But just how serious was it? Torontoist’s handy-dandy Gaffe-O-Meter breaks it down.
GAFFE: The mayoral candidate told biking mag Dandyhorse that “the problem with bicycles is that they have become a political issue—saying I’ll put in bike lanes gets the support of cyclists, but the rest of the voters will hate me. The debate has become equivalent to abortion—whatever I say, someone will be angry.”
GAFFE LEVEL: 3/5
INSIGHT INTO CHARACTER: Prone to gross exaggeration. Doesn’t believe in a political or moral middle ground. Possible persecution complex.
ANALYSIS: What to make of a problem that’s partially the result of your own rhetoric? Ramp up the rhetoric.
For Ford, disdain for cyclists is a well-trodden road. By now, you’ve heard his 2007 comment that “what I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks…roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. And my heart bleeds for ’em when I hear someone gets killed [shrugs], but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.” Only last month, when Ford unveiled his transportation plan, he jawed that “it’s time to stop the war on cars,” a war that has always been a fantasy.
But here he comes again, this time to put the debate about bike lanes on par with the one about abortion, all while framing himself as a victim of an unwanted war rather than its longtime commander. To which there is only one proper response: huh? Forget abortion clinics: when’s the last time the Bike Clinic got firebombed? Who’s murdering lane-painting City workers? How’s this “hate” being manifested, outside of comments on Toronto Sun articles? In what way is a bike lane like an abortion? (Wait: don’t answer that.) Ford’s right that people get angry at him no matter what his positions are, but that’s not because bike lanes are divisive—it’s because he is.
Gaffe-O-Meter illustration by Clayton Hanmer/Torontoist. Rob Ford photo by Christopher Drost/Torontoist. Thanks to Ryan Bigge for the discovery.
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