I am sorry. I was wrong about Mayor Rob Ford.
Mea culpa. I totally underestimated Rob Ford.
I have to rethink everything that I have previously written about Rob Ford.
In my previous Huffington Post article, “Why Ford Is The Man To Beat”, I wrote that I believed that Rob Ford was very strong and popular in the outer suburbs. That is, in the areas of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.
And that Ford’s opposition was centered in Old Toronto, especially in that Toronto area bounded by Dufferin Street to the west, Dupont Street to the north, Yonge Street to the east and the Toronto Islands to the south.
In other words, Olivia Chow Country.
The home of Margaret Atwood and The Annex, The West Annex, (aka Seaton Village), Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, Chinatown, University of Toronto, the CBC, the Bay Street financial district, The Entertainment district, the Toronto Island community and the Rogers and Air Canada Centres. And home to the Toronto Starand the Globe and Mail.
The heart and soul of the Toronto urban elites.
I thought these above Toronto urban elites were monolithic. And were all united and arrayed against Rob Ford, and his Ford Nation.
I was wrong.
It seems that Ford even enjoys surprising support in the heart of Olivia Chow Country. The belly of the beast. Wow! Who knew?
I could just see my favourite urban writer, the Globe’s Marcus Gee, suddenly spill his Pinot Grigio at the Globe’s favorite watering hole at Le Select Bistro, across from his Front Street office.
In a very surprising column, powerhouse Bay Street lawyer, Howard Levitt, and founder and senior partner of the prestigious Bay Street law firm, Levitt LLP., publicly came out very strongly in favour of Rob Ford, in his article, ” How Rob Ford Can Not Only Keep His Job, But Weather The Storm And Become A Political Legend”.
Mr. Levitt is no angry suburban Ford Nation malcontent. He is a nationally known employment law specialist who practices employment law in eight provinces. He has represented his clients successfully in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada and various upper provincial courts throughout Canada. He and his firm represent some of Canada’s largest companies in a variety of commercial fields.
Levitt is also the author of The Law of Dismissal in Canada. And he is a regular columnist at the National Post. Levitt has been heavily involved in Canadian politics for over 40 years.
Levitt, a very well-heeled Rosedale resident, is also the famous “Ferrari lawyer,” who ditched his fancy silver $200K Ferrari during a Toronto rainstorm in order to catch a Porter plane for a hearing in Ottawa, the next day, on behalf of his client.
I am impressed with what Levitt has to say for two reasons.
Firstly, his insightful analysis is very similar to my numerous previous articles, which try to explain the enduring support of Ford Nation in the outer suburbs.
Secondly, and more importantly, Levitt represents a view held by many members of the financial/legal/accounting establishment in downtown Toronto and the young male and female Turks and stars of Bay Street.
Levitt astutely writes as follows:
“Ford’s supporters feel disenfranchised from municipal government, perceiving themselves as receiving little benefit from City Hall. Unlike Central Torontonians, they don’t have access to subways, dense public transit or the other city services that their taxes go toward. They perceive Ford’s agenda of tax reduction and eliminating public service salaries, in excess of their own but paid for by their tax dollars as in their interest.”
Many Torontonians, recoil at the prospect of the re-enactment of the tax-and-spend David Miller regime or its present-day embodiments of Adam Vaughan and Olivia Chow.
Similarly, they are reflectively suspicious of the left-liberal media or downtown left-wingers like Clay Ruby, the vanguard of those attacking Ford.
They see Ford as one of them, an ordinary guy, overweight, unpolished but fighting for what they perceive to be their interests. They see his opponents as an elite whose interests are inimical to their own and who never gave Ford a chance. This is why the more these groups attack him, the more popular he has become. Note his self-description as “350 pounds of fun” as opposed to the sanctimonious tone of Miller, his private school then Harvard-educated predecessor. (Hey, Howard, that Harvard crack really hurts me personally, but I get your point, man). While they don’t want a crack-smoking Mayor, that seems the lesser of two evils.
Levitt’s analysis does not only explain Ford’s appeal to Ford Nation, but also ironically, to the emerging new elites in downtown Toronto. Those owners and occupants of the thousands of condos up and down Yonge Street, Bay Street, Bathurst and along the Queens Quay and the Lakeshore.
The young urban professional latte sipping, biking habitués of the New Toronto. Who work hard in the Bay Street towers, but party hard and have been known to enjoy the odd brewski and bong hit. They are not as fussed about Ford’s personal life issues. They have been there and done that.
These new young Toronto elites are very pro business and pro downtown Toronto development. They love Porter Air for business and pleasure. And they don’t like to pay a lot of taxes. They certainly don’t want their hard-earned salaries supporting feather-bedding unionists, with jobs for life at City Hall and unlimited pensions.
Ford’s libertarian message of fiscal prudence and pro laissez-faire entrepreneurial capitalism resonate with this group.
In the next election, I predict Ford will surprisingly cut into Chow’s support on her own turf.
Ms. Chow, I wouldn’t measure the Mayor’s office for your new curtains just yet.