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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Separating the personal from the political with Rob Ford

A news leviathan that dominated today's headlines across Canada was confirmation, from Toronto's Police Chief Bill Blair, of the existence of the elusive Rob Ford "crack video."

It would be pointless to argue the authenticity of the video. Anything can be faked, but the apparent efforts of associates of Toronto's Mayor to procure the video suggests it was not a fabrication concocted by special effects experts.

That's the bad news for supporters of the embattled chief magistrate.

But for Torontonians who fear the demise of their only mayor to show demonstrable concern for fiscal accountability in over a generation, there is in fact a great deal of good news to counterbalance today's revelations.

Barring some new shocker, there will not be any charges against Ford, and quite reasonably so. A video with a man smoking a pipe with a puff of smoke coming out of it is not conclusive proof of any criminal wrongdoing.

Ford has said he's not resigning. And there's something that the ecstatic media buzzards that despise Ford have forgotten in their current euphoria; the next municipal election is a year away.

A year is an eternity in politics.

Ford has kept property taxes down to the rate of inflation, as he promised. He eliminated the Municipal Vehicle Registration Tax, as he promised. His influence has managed to get federal and provincial funding for subway expansion, as he promised. Ford has saved millions and improved garbage pick-up for half the city by privatizing that service, as he promised. Because the municipal unions knew he would play hardball, Ford was able to negotiate a fair contract with them, staving off any strike. That in stark contrast to his predecessor David Miller who forced the city to endure a prolonged, fetid garbage strike in the hottest months of the summer of 2009. At a point where the length of the strike would have forced union workers subsisting on strike pay to negotiate a deal more favorable to the city, Miller completely capitulated to the unions.

Miller is relevant to any current discussion about Ford. Because if one of  Ford's presumptive rivals gets into office, like the straw man candidate David Sonacki, Miller's Budget Chief, to whom all of Toronto outside of the offices of The Toronto Star remain indifferent at best, a return to the fiscal ineptitude and high taxes of the previous administration is virtually guaranteed.

The orgy of sanctimonious revelry at The Toronto Star over the disclosure of the existence of the Ford video will probably turn out to be short lived.

Ford lied about the video. But in terms of lying, The Star also lied about Ford, when during his mayoral campaign, the newspaper published false accounts of Ford having physically assaulted a high school football player he was coaching. Even after the alleged victim of Ford's non-existent assault denied it ever happened, The Star still did not print a formal retraction of their lie.

And we all know that the public is not as inclined as partisan media and partisan politicians to become histrionic about politicians lying about events in their personal lives. Indeed, a hysterical overreaction to personal foibles can backfire in a big way against the people trying to exploit it.

Newt Gingrich thought he had Bill Clinton on the ropes after the lies the former President told about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. But in the end, it wasn't the President, but Gingrich, who lost his job. The Speaker of the House role was taken away from Gingrich after the charge he led plummeted the GOP into a disastrous performance in midterm elections, when the public rejected their exaggerated hysteria about the Clinton affair.

Toronto's media mavens have been scrambling over each other to demand the crucifixion of Ford, whose indiscretions have cost taxpayers nothing. Yet strangely, most of them have remained complacent and silent about the billions of tax dollars wasted by the corruption Kathleen Wynne's provincial government.

The public are not as stupid and oblivious to that hypocrisy as the media might hope.

The milquetoast, mushy middle Councilor Josh Matlow and leftist Councilor Joe Mihevc both rushed today to exploit the news about the Ford video to their advantage. That is the same Mihevic whose incompetence and mismanagement of the St. Clair streetcar fiasco cost the city tens of millions only to see a neighbourhood divided, no discernible improvement in transit service and increased traffic congestion in his ward.

"It pains me to see the City of Toronto in the situation we currently face,"  Mihevic gloated about Ford. No more, I can assure you, than it pained me to see a $40 million project mushroom to over $120 million largely because of Mihevic's ineptness.

A year from now, when Torontonians go back to the polls to select their mayor, the Rob Ford video may or may not be on their minds. But so too will the high taxes, the incompetence, and the paternalistic arrogance of David Miller and his acolytes on City Council.  Knowing that horrible stewardship of the city, and union-bosses' and developers' domination of City Hall would return if one of Ford's potential rivals like Olivia Chow, David Sonacki or Karen Stintz should replace him will also be on the minds of voters.

Which weighs more heavily on Toronto's voters in the fall of 2014 remains to be seen. But I wouldn't count out Rob Ford yet. Not by a long shot.


Unknown said...

Gee, it's almost like I said three years ago that Crackhead Rob would destroy conservatism in this city.

Under no circumstances will Ford resign. He's too selfish and stupid for that and nothing in his history indicates that he's even capable of thinking of anyone but himself.

If his polling stays north of 30% over the net few weeks, he'll absolutely run again, and it's even conceivable that he could win. But even if he does, no one will take him seriously ever again.

What will probably be a more left-wing council will actually be governing the city, while Ford increasingly sinks into a cesspool of irrelevance, drugs and ignorance.

Tim Hudak, being even dumber than Ford, is beyond help. But Etobicoke Slim's continued presence is bound to hurt the Harper Tories. Were I a Liberal or NDP strategist, I'd be collecting every smiling, self-satisfied picture that members of the Harper cabinet has taken with Hizzoner and saving them for a rainy day.

Could the day be saved? Sure. Unencumbered by the dead weight of el Robbo, I believe that John Tory, Karen Stintz or even Denzil Minnian-Wong could be elected, but not with Ford still living among us.

And let's stop comparing and contrasting Ford's idiocy with that of anyone else, okay? So far as I know, Kathleen Wynne hasn't been consorting with a violent criminal underworld, and at least two of Ford's drug buddies have caught the wrong end of a bullet.

But there is a bright side. This will end Doug's career, and he's even more of a lying shithead than even Rob. Alex Lisi stands a better chamce of becoming an MPP at this point.

Anonymous said...

To correct your column, the Toronto Star did not lie, they were just alternatively truthful.

Kathleen Wynne's government is not corrupt, merely politically expedient!

And Rob Ford is doomed never to be elected again, just like Marion Barry.

Richard K said...

Well, Skippy, there's obviously much about this on which we disagree, although some on which I would sign off.

But as far as tainting all conservatives, I don't think that's the case. Rob Ford is Rob Ford. I don't think John Tory would be tarred with that brush just because of the small "c" with which one could describe both. I do agree with you that Tory will not be able to win a mayoral race if Ford is in it. I don't think Stintz or Minan-Wong have a hope in hell regardless. Neither of that pair are very effective, dynamic or convincing, nor do they have a real support base to speak of outside their wards.

I doubt very much this will end Doug's career. If Hudak manages to screw up the next provincial election, which is well within his capabilities, or lack thereof, Doug has every chance of taking a role in the provincial Conservatives. And you do know that Etobicoke ward Doug has is going to be his for as long as he wants it.

As I wrote in the post, a year is an eternity in politics. Lots will happen between now and election day next year, and the Star, as Jon Kay noted on CBC radio this afternoon, may have overplayed its hand on this again.

And as to our Premier, you know the one who saw a billion plus flushed down the toilet for nothing, well, her old best bud is on charges for producing child pornography.

I'm libertarian as far as pot smoking goes, but what Wynne's deputy Ben Levin stands accused of is pure evil.

Yet the Toronto Star doesn't seem all that worked up about any of her associations and wrongdoing.

The public may take a different view than the media lynch mob out for Ford and put all these things into perspective in the fall of 2014.

tie57 said...

"He's too selfish and stupid for that and nothing in his history indicates that he's even capable of thinking of anyone but himself."

all those juicy descriptive words you have used just tells me how seriously brainwashed people truly are and judgemental. If you can give us an actual factual/statistical analysis that sincerely puts Ford's aptitude in question or something more intelligent than the words shithead and stupid - let us know please. thanks