LORINC: Rob Ford takes a look in the mirror


Ever since Rob Ford became mayor, the city has been transfixed by the spectacle of a man uniquely unsuited to hold high public office, inflicting remarkable damage to the municipality, to city council, to the office of the mayor, and to Toronto itself. He distorted provincial politics and debased the language beyond all imagining. He made us a laughing stock. His defiance of the basic rules of civility mocked all our political conventions. In sum, he has conducted himself in the most disgraceful way imaginable.

And yet….

Ford — elected by so many perfectly decent people from all walks of life — held up an uncomfortable mirror to this city. He reflected something in our civic DNA that was dark, shocking and small-minded. But despite all the scandals and antics and humiliations, his core of support held, and held, and held.

For many people, Ford continued to be the One True Fiscal Conservative, the only politician capable of staring down the myriad special interests allegedly determined to pick-pocket the ordinary Joe.

So in the wake of two extraordinary revelations — the news exploding around 9:15 pm like a cluster bomb — the single most important story is not about the impact on the election campaign or his supposed treatment/recovery cycle.

It is about the thousands of unquoted, private conversations that are taking place around the kitchen tables of Ford Nation.

I’m not talking about the yahoos who bellow for him at ball games. Many people who voted for Ford are ordinary, conservatively-inclined Torontonians, concerned about their taxes, skeptical about the promises of progressives, and going about their lives. I may disagree with their politics, but I am reluctant to stand in judgment of what they deem to be important in their own lives.

In my years covering municipal affairs, I’ve met so many people, of all political stripes, who know precious little about what goes on in their name at City Hall. They have busy lives and other concerns, some of which involve money, or the lack thereof. So when Torontonians tuned in four years ago and heard this guy saying he was going to put an end to all the self-dealing, many of us — us! — found that message appealing.

As we now know, this man was very much not the person he appeared to be. Yet Ford’s supporters toughed it out during the first innings of Crackgate, and some continued to stick by their guy during last fall’s revolving door of revelations.

But we often forget that Ford wasn’t just lying to the media and the city’s progressives. He was lying to Ford Nation, too. He talked about humility at his campaign launch and kept telling all those loyal supporters that he was sorry, that he was moving forward and mending his ways.

In short, he took Ford Nation for a bunch of chumps, and I’m guessing that a growing number of his backers are waking up to the bitter taste of betrayal — the searing realization that their guy, the only man they trusted to protect their modest interests, is nothing but a vulgar, misogynistic, serial liar in the throes of an untreated addiction. Ford lives a life that is unrecognizable to most Torontonians, including many of the people who fervently believed he represented them.

What are they feeling when confronted with these new revelations? Anger? Pity? Dismay? Disgust? I can tell you this: it won’t be love.

illustration by Kevin Nunez


  1. “What are they feeling when confronted with these new revelations? Anger? Pity? Dismay? Disgust? I can tell you this: it won’t be love.”

    .. yeah, it’ll be denial.

  2. Its love and support for an imperfect human being that has substance addiction and needs help…the guy still has my vote…what he does in office is what matters to this voter. not what he does in his private life..

    I can’t cast the first stone… but i guess no one else here has an embarrassing part of their life they wouldn’t mind sharing with the world by having people expose them without your consent…really?????

  3. I would expect most of his supporters to be in denial. When you believe for so long in someone or something, especially to the point of identifying with a person and/or actively campaigning for them, it’s extremely difficult to admit you’re wrong or that you’ve been played. They were slapped in the face with reality last year, so why would now be any different?

  4. McStylis: Would you trust your financial advisor to act like Ford does? Would you hire someone as the CEO of your company that constantly lies and has serious addiction issues? Would you like him to talk about your wife or daughter the way he does about his own wife or karen Stintz (or a former staffer)? Do you share his views on “gays” and the use of racist slang?

    Why why why would you vote for him again? There are people who share Ford’s views on taxes that can fulfill your political wishes — there is no reason to reward the behaviour of Ford.

  5. McStylis: You’re absolutely right – he’s an imperfect human being like many others and many other politicians too. BUT someone with substance abuse issues and in the beginning stages of recovery is not in a position to run an international city without consequences to his health. Not to mention the quagmire that would no doubt develop at city hall again if he were to come back too soon or maybe ever. I’m surprised at those supporters of his that still wish him to run this city. Do you care about him and his family or just those tax dollars you think he can save you? I agree with Joanne. Vote for someone else with the same political views but perhaps someone that can represent everyone in the city rather than just a select few.

  6. @McStylis, you’re right, what he does in office is indeed important. Please have a close look at his record as a mayor–it’s not a good one, and that doesn’t bode well for an effective second term. If you apply the same level of scrutiny toward other candidates you will see much more promise.

  7. I can’t with any honesty feel anything but contempt for Ford voters – all of them. I’m a working father with two babies, a stay at home wife, hobbies, and who pays tonnes in property tax. I too am busy; I too am strapped for cash; and I too am frustrated with the goings on at city hall. But, that doesn’t stop me from staying informed enough to know that a politician (with that track record and obvious lack of intelligence) who promises to do what no one else can, is a fraud. As if our political salvation can be found in a man like Ford. Managing a city is a complex affair, and anyone who likens it to a mom & pop business obviously has little understanding for the realities of city management. Ignoring the truth and believing in snappy slogans is pure laziness, while looking past the absurd facade for the sake of saving a few bucks in tax is pure greed. I’ve no respect for Ford voters of the past, and even less for the Ford voters of the future.

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