This has been a good week for Rob Ford’s campaign for re-election as Toronto’s mayor in 2014.
I can just see and hear those from the old media — the Star, the Globe, the Post and the Sun — spitting up their gluten-free almond milk all over their granola, down at their local Whole Foods store.
The consensus among the Toronto literati, intelligentsia, and Richard Florida’s creative class, (who all apparently live within the Annex or cycling distance to the Annex) is that Ford has made Toronto into an international laughingstock.
Apparently, our buffoonish Mayor has embarrassed Toronto on Saturday Night Live and Jon Stewart. Ford and Toronto have become the butt of U.S. late-night jokes.
As to whether Toronto has suffered international embarrassment, I believe that Torontonians should just get over themselves.
The city of Toronto and the people of Toronto are greater than Rob Ford.
Toronto will survive and its brand and reputation will survive.
Ironically, a very well-respected CBC reporter Neil Macdonald, has come indirectly to Rob Ford’s defence. He wrote in an article:
“But embarrassed? Us? As in ‘Oh. My. God. He’s turning us into a LAUGHINGSTOCK?’ Spare me.The only Canadians I know who actually think that are the Torontonians who never shut up about how cosmopolitan their city is.”
On Thursday night Mayor Ford spoke at the Casa Loma to Toronto’s business and investment community. He reminded the business crowd about his many cost-cutting measures and that he had reduced the council and the mayor’s budget by $6.4 million over four years. Ford added humorously “Even more in the last three days.” According to reports from that evening, that line received big laughs. This time the business crowd was laughing with Ford, not at him.
According to the Toronto Sun, Ford was applauded for his speech and was asked to pose for pictures by those in attendance.
According to the Globe and Mail covering the same event, Ford’s public claim to fight for the taxpayer was met by a receptive audience. He said, “In the coming year, I will continue to fight for the taxpayer…..Taxes are going up 2 1/2 per cent. That is not the way I ran the government and I will not be supportive of 2 1/2 per cent tax increases, when I know we could achieve a 1 3/4 per cent tax increase.”
The Globe also concluded that the audience was generally supportive as Ford leaned on his fiscal record, a strong part of his brand since entering politics.
The Guest Greg Hart also reported that he appreciated what the mayor had done on the fiscal front.
“Unfortunately all the drama going on, it’s a bit of an embarrassment,” he said. “Credibility, as far as that goes, it’s a bit of a toss-up. But, I mean, in terms of what he’s done so far, economically and what he’s done for the economy, I think it’s good. He’s certainly done a lot of good.”
Considering that Ford’s week began with Toronto City Council stripping him of most of his powers as Mayor, Thursday’s speech could be deemed as successful.
Ford conducted himself in a respectful manner. He showed grace and gentle humour in accepting public criticism. He stuck to his message of fiscal prudence. Objective reports indicate that he received a positive reception from members of Toronto’s business, professional and investment class. Which clearly liked his message and his fiscal policies.
On Friday, the spirits of Ford and Ford Nation further soared.
According to the Globe, a new poll by Forum Research suggested that, despite Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s recent admissions of smoking crack cocaine and drinking to excess, his popularity has barely seen a dent — 42 per cent of Toronto residents said they approve of the job he’s doing, and 33 per cent still plan on voting for him.
To me these results confirm what my friends and I have been hearing and seeing for months now.
Unlike old media types, who do not appear ever to travel north of the Toronto Annex ( Dupont Street) , my friends and I have been meeting with Ford Nation members and Ford supporters in Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and even in old Toronto.
We have been working the phones, communicating on email and Facebook. And we have been following various pro-Ford blogs and pro-Ford Twitter accounts.
We like to get up close and personal. No automatic robocalls for us.
The Ford base is holding and it is energized. Its members are bursting at the seams to exercise their democratic rights and vote for their man who they still believe respects them, their hard-earned tax dollars and who best represents their interests. That’s democracy, folks.
It’s messy. But it sure beats rule by the un-elected privileged few.
I believe these poll results underestimate Ford’s approval rating in both the outer suburbs and in old Toronto, where Stintz, Chow and Tory live.
Ford is back as the outsider. Railing against unnecessary government waste, councillors’ perks and high taxes.
It looks like Ford got his groove back.
It is going to be an exciting ride, folks.