Featured Post

How To Deal With Gaza After Hamas

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rob Ford Walks into the Lion's Den

Rob Ford walked into the lion's den last Wednesday night.

One might not normally think of the grandiloquent facade and punctilious interior of The Art Gallery of Ontario as such. But for Ford, who was bringing a message of  fiscal austerity and responsible government to a privileged crowd used to benefiting from taxpayer largess without accountability, the ambiance at what was billed as "Toronto's Arts Debate" was that of an angry mob at a lynching.

Ford didn't have to attend that debate. There have been more debates in this mayoral contest than any other in the history of Toronto. On that day, they had another one scheduled later on. Sometimes, for one reason or another, the candidates miss certain debates.

But Ford is unique among his rivals in that he isn't the type to run away from having to deliver a message that he knows his audience will not want to hear.

Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi, and George Smitherman were competing with each other to pander the most to the assembled special interest group who have a strong stake in maintaining their plethora of  taxpayer funding.

All, with the exception of Ford, committed to increasing the amount of tax dollars that go to "the arts."  Smitherman provided his now-routine and implausible Smither-math equation of freezing taxes, increasing spending and cutting debt. Rossi, whose single-digit polling numbers barely justify his continued presence at these debates, has been bragging on his website about he delivered 'the line of the night' with "It's better to just let him talk."  This referring to one of the times the crowd heckled Ford for saying they would have to look at alternate ways to taxpayer funding, including private sector partnerships, to support arts programs.

I disagree with Rossi's assessment.

For me, the 'line of the night' was when Ford, in the face of a hostile crowd, said, "I'd love to be able to say I'd increase funding for the arts, but I'm not going to make promises I don't know I can keep."

Ford also knew he was going to face resentment when he laid down a very hard and, in that room, unpopular truth when he let them know, "Not everybody cares about this issue as much as you do."

That, in a nutshell, is what differentiates Ford from his rivals.

The city is $330 million dollars behind in road repairs thanks to the neglect of David Miller's administration. We have a $3 Billion dollar debt. The reality is that public spending is going to have to go down, or stay the same, but not go up to fund special interests. That's how Miller got us in this mess.

This debate reminded me why I respect Rob Ford. It's because he respects me enough to tell me the truth, even if he knows I won't like hearing it.

It took courage for Ford to walk into that room, knowing what he was going to face. He may have been booed by a crowd consisting of 400 members of a special interest group, but I anticipate he'll be cheered at the ballot box by the majority of Torontonians who appreciate his looking out for the taxpayers' interests.

You can see the whole debate for yourself and make up your own mind by checking it out at this link.

-- -- -- -- --

Some other interesting notes from this debate:

It was obvious there is a real animosity between Joe Pantalone and George Smitherman.

Far less so than between Pantalone and Ford. The difference is that with Ford and Pantalone, you get two very different visions about the direction they believe the city should go in, but both are honest and up-front individuals. With either, a voter knows what he is choosing and can make that informed choice.

With former McGuinty cabinet minister Smitherman, who knows if he means what he says or what he'll deliver on?  He's changed his message so many times it's not worth the trouble to keep track.

Some notable moments:

Pantalone talked about Smitherman "slithering" away from an answer (Smitherman is often disparagingly called "Slitherman" by his detractors)

Smitherman retorted "that's just rude and a new low for you" { a "short" joke making fun of Pantalone's 5'1" height?}

Pantalone: "being Mayor of Toronto is not a consolation prize for not being premier of Ontario" (that's my runner-up for "line of the night.")

Joe used his "gardening" analogy for Totronto again. I respect Joe, so I wish he's stop using his Chauncey Gardiner line.


Admin said...

The chairman of the AGO who took a snide jab at Ford in his opening remarks, is # 3 on the Ontario sunshine list.

Matthew Teitelbaum, chief executive officer of the Art Gallery of Ontario, collected $981,000 in salary and taxable benefits last year, putting him at number 3 on the sunshine list of Ontario public sector workers earning over $100,000.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/03/31/sunshine-list.html#ixzz11VeYz4HP

What a douchebag.

Rustee24 said...

If nothing else comes out of this entire election fiasco, I would really, REALLY like to know why all of the mainstream media, *especially* the supposedly Conservative-leaning National Post, gave George Smitherman an absolute pass on his dubious past, while at the same time attacking Rob Ford mercilessly. I didn't have much respect for the Toronto Star prior to all of this, but now they've lost all credibility.