Rob Ford, Rest in Peace, Buddy

I am personally devastated by the sudden death of Rob Ford. About six months ago, I had dinner with Rob at a downtown Italian bistro. At that time Rob appeared happy and optimistic. He had lost some weight.

The cancer appeared in remission or at least appeared- beatable. At dinner, Ford had that political fire in his belly. He was highly critical of the Tory mayoralty and in two years he was going take him on again and win back the mayoralty.

Though the cancer beat Ford today, the cancer will never wipe out the love and affection that many Torontonians had for this man. His strength as a person is that he genuinely cared about people and he sincerely wanted to help them out. Whether it be by fixing the potholes in the neighborhood, ensuring the heat was turned back on in the apartment,  or making sure there was sufficient local police in the area to ensure the safety of the local citizens. The little things that mean a great deal to the average man or woman on the street. Regardless of race, color, creed, gender, ethnicity or religion.

Rob Ford was the consummate retail politician. A true man of the people. And he had great political instincts.

These political traits made him ultimately a very formidable politician. Rob was fiercely supported by a large number of people, from all walks of life, men and women, young and old, old stock Toronto and very visible nonwhite minorities (collectively, Ford Nation) who stuck by him through thick and thick and through all his personal problems. The rock-solid support of his followers never wavered. Never bent. Never collapsed. Even his political foes and media opponents grudgingly acknowledged that fact.

Hey, buddy, the fight is over. You can safely rest in peace. But your indomitable spirit and the many fond memories will always linger on among your many friends and followers.

Mitch Wolfe Recalls With Great Fondness Ford Fest 2014- And the True Face of Ford Nation

Ford Fest 2014 (Scarborough) Major Success- Ford is Back!!!

I attended last year’s 2013 Ford Fest in Scarborough and this one in the summer of 2014 was bigger, more boisterous and the crowd was stronger and more vocal and clearly loyal to their man, Rob Ford. Like last year, I was very impressed with the diversity of support that came out for Ford.

This time about 75% of the 10,000-15,000 in attendance were non white representing all the major communities in this great city of Toronto: the black, Asian, South Asian, Persian, Filippino, South American, Middle Eastern, European, Eastern European communities and many many more.

Young and old. Families, singletons, all ages, all nationalities and even some old stock white Torontonians made the trek to Scarborough, Thompson Park, to have a photo with Ford or just be part of Ford Nation.

In this photo I am with some very impressive hard-working Scarborough women who are fiercely loyal to Rob Ford. They love and respect this man. They told me that he relates to them. They trust him.

They will go to the wall for him. The lovely woman next to me, Georgette, thought so highly of Rob Ford that she named her little boy, the son she is holding, Rob Ford.

The tradition continues.
Fordy More Years!!!
Ford Nation forever!!!

Why Doug Ford Will Beat John Tory, aka, “John Liberal”

It is the Scarborough subway, stupid.

For a brief moment, I thought of ending this article, right here and now.  Samuel Beckett-style.  Simple, elegant, concise, but profound.

Less is more.But I am more from the Norman Mailer school of personal journalism.

Go big, or go home.

Let me expand on my simple thesis.

The most assured, clear and non-gridlocked road to victory in this mayoral election was through the suburbs of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.

And the major issue on the minds of these residents, especially the long-suffering, transit-challenged residents of Scarborough- was not homelessness, affordable housing, or subsidized daycare- but simply-  subways.

Olivia Chow, self-acclaimed defender of the disadvantaged, the weak and the vulnerable- never got it.

Tory’s platform was not visionary or original. Actually it was derivative. Ford-lite

On Day One of her campaign, when Chow came out opposed to the Scarborough subway and for a third rate bus/LRT system for Scarberians, she insulted and disrespected the hard working families and residents of Scarborough.

As a result, she and her campaign were D.O.A.  Chow’s fate was sealed.

On the other hand, at the outset, John Tory started solidly. His main pitch was that with Tory, you get Rob Ford’s popular fiscally prudent policies ( ie low taxes, respect for the taxpayer, reduce government inefficiencies- ie end unionized garbage services in the east end), but without the drama and the circus.

Okay, Tory’s platform was not visionary or original. Actually it was derivative. Ford-lite.  Quite Bland.

But as the Toronto Sun Lorrie Goldstein recently opined, recalling the immortal words of Tory’s very successful boss, former Premier Brampton Bill Davis, “ Bland works.”

I would respond to my good friend, Lorrie G., ( channeling former Vice Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen to the hapless Dan Quayle),

“Mr. Tory, I served with Bill Davis. I knew Bill Davis. Bill Davis was a friend of mine. Mr. Tory, you’re no Bill Davis.”

And even if John Tory was the reincarnation of the folksy, charming, funny, circumlocutious Brampton Billy, the 80s Bill Davis would be the wrong person for these times.  As Chow, resorting to her radical NDP 80s schtick,  (soaking the rich with more taxes on condos/homes and affordable housing for politically connected NDP “needy families”) has shown.

I believe that if John Tory had stayed the course, that is, kept to the Ford agenda, he would not be on the brink of his sixth political defeat.

I must admit that I do admire Mr. Tory. He has a genius for discovering different and creative ways of snatching defeat from the oh so close jaws of victory.

In this election, he did not self-destruct with one fatal blow to the head ( a la public funding of faith-based private schools, say hello to Sharia High).

This time Tory saw his lead bleed away as a result of a series of self-administered cuts to his platform and his character.

Firstly, Tory only paid lip service to the Scarborough subway, which had the overwhelming support of Scarborough residents and their provincial and federal representatives. Instead Tory turned to his attention, as Miller and Smitherman had before him, to a fourth Toronto subway line, a Toronto relief line.

Then Tory focused his transit efforts on his “Smart Track”, which may help downtown Toronto commuters, but significantly ignores the wishes of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke residents, the heart and soul of Toronto, who believe they deserve the same transit benefits that their more affluent and politically connected neighbors enjoy in downtown Toronto.

By failing to fully buy into the transit needs and wishes of Scarborough residents and their suburban neighbors, Tory allowed Rob Ford and then Doug Ford, the opportunity to rightfully claim to speak for the interests of these suburban residents. And the opportunity for Rob, then Doug Ford to hold onto his suburban base.

Secondly, “Mr. Bland/ Mr. Nice Guy” was neither, when on the day Doug Ford announced that Rob Ford was withdrawing as a mayoral candidate due to cancer and he, Doug, was replacing him in the race, John Tory launched into a down and dirty low class blistering attack of Doug Ford. This was a blatant effort to frame Doug as a mean and angry bully who was critical of his fellow councilors and Premier Wynne and would be much much worse than Rob Ford.

To Doug’s credit, in an emotional speech to the press with the Ford family surrounding him, Doug ignored Tory’s inappropriate taunts, and handled the whole matter with class, restraint, genuine emotion and diplomacy.

Here was a case of Tory shooting himself in the foot and framing himself as a below the belt political hack.

On another occasion, Tory tarnished his Mr. Clean character by implying Doug Ford was racist, sexist and homophobic,  because Doug Ford inelegantly defended himself by stating that he had Jewish friends.

I would take that answer over the fact John Tory joined an exclusive Toronto golf club that specifically banned Jews as members.

So it is my turn to ask my friendly Toronto Sun editor, Lorrie Goldstein, “What is the story, Mr. Lorrie?”

Thirdly,  in a desperate attempt to distinguish himself from Doug Ford, John Tory has seemingly literally and figuratively prostrated himself before Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and her acolytes. In an unseemly attempt to ingratiate himself and seek her support and the support of her Liberal Cabinet Ministers.

What the majority of Toronto voters do not want is that their mayor becoming Premier Wynne’s handmaiden

So that John Tory, aka now John Liberal, can claim that he alone can get along with the powerful Wynne.

Yes, Premier Wynne is head of a majority government. But she is also running a government that is still arrogant, heavily in debt and in deficit. And awash in old and new scandals. “MaRS, we have a problem.” And very unpopular.

Many Toronto voters have fled John Liberal because they oppose his unholy and subservient association with the scandal-ridden Wynne government. Other Toronto voters are turned off Mr. Liberal because they believe that a popularly elected Toronto mayor with a clear mandate from Ontario’s largest city, (the engine of the province),  should be treated with respect, regardless of political stripe or ideology.

They don’t appreciate their mayor, or potential mayor,  genuflecting to the Sun Goddess Wynne.

What the majority of Toronto voters do not want is that their mayor becoming Premier Wynne’s handmaiden.

For the above reasons, the hapless Mr. Liberal will go down to a crushing but historic sixth defeat at the hands of Doug Ford.

Ford Nation is still a Political Force

The leftist pundits, (CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail) have never understood Ford Nation and have always under-estimated its staying power and influence.

Initially, the leftist mainstream Canadian press dismissed Ford Nation as an angry group of low income, uneducated, white socially conservative men and women.It is true that Ford Nation is predominantly suburban based.

But its members come from all age groups and from all socio-economic groups and strata of society. Ford Nation draws from all the major racial, ethnic and religious communities of Toronto. It is a true multicultural group. Regular polling and the populations at Ford Fests, confirm Ford Nation’s breadth, depth and diversity.

Even many downtown Bay Street types- the so-called elitists, ie lawyers, doctors, accountants, bankers and brokers also proudly call themselves Ford Nation supporters.

Through all of Mayor Rob Ford’s personal troubles, Ford Nation stood by Rob Ford and kept him in the race.

When Rob Ford had to withdraw due to illness, the pundits thought Ford Nation was finished. But this amazing diverse band of men and women stuck together and transferred their loyalty and support to Rob Ford’s brother, city councilor Doug Ford.

As a result, contrary to all the experts, Doug Ford is leading Olivia Chow and has a great shot to take down John Tory come October 27, election day for the Mayor of Toronto.Rob Ford may be the heart and soul of Ford Nation, but his brother Doug has performed better than expected in the debates, in interviews and on the campaign trail.

Doug Ford has forcefully and effectively taken on both Chow and Tory and hammered them on their deficiencies, while at the same time, articulating forcefully the message of respect for the taxpayers, keeping taxes low, ensuring services are more efficient and promoting subways, subways, subways.

In addition, Doug Ford’s opponents, can no longer base their campaigns, on merely attacking the character of Doug Ford, who does not carry the same baggage as his brother.

This election has shown that Ford Nation is still a force municipally and can be an effective force federally if properly motivated and treated by Conservative Prime Minister Harper and his federal organizers. And if Harper effectively taps into the spirit and support of Ford Nation.

Because the spirit of Ford Nation is not limited to the Greater Toronto Area, but extends throughout Ontario-in all the big cities, suburbs and small towns of Ontario. And beyond Ontario as well.

Former Conservative Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty ( now deceased) knew that. And as a result, he was a steadfast supporter of Rob Ford and Ford Nation.

Rob Ford will be elected councilor and I hope he beats his cancer. Doug Ford, though trailing Tory, still can pull out a victory as mayor. But whether Doug wins or loses, Ford Nation will survive and will be a major factor in the next federal election.

In order for PM Harper to win Ontario and Canada, and beat the popular, but dangerous, Justin Trudeau, federal leader of the Liberal Party, Harper needs the support of Ford Nation.

I hope Harper and his people are listening.

John Tory’s Campaign Rocked by Sudden Entry of Doug Ford for Toronto Mayor

About a week ago, it appeared that John Tory, leading in the race for Toronto mayor, was finally going to bury his political reputation as a five time loser.

(Campaign manager for PC leader Kim Campbell’s disastrous 1993 federal Tory campaign; loser to David Miller in Toronto mayoral race of 2003; loser to Kathleen Wynne in 2007 Ontario provincial election- Don Valley West riding;  loser to Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty as Ontario Tory leader in same election; and loser in a 2009 Ontario provincial by-election for long-held Conservative provincial seat of Kawartha Lakes- Haliburton- Brock)

At that time, a Nanos poll of decided voters had Tory firmly in the lead with 42% and Rob Ford (28%) and Olivia Chow (26%), both campaigns apparently stalled .

A subsequent September 8, Forum Research poll had Tory at 40%, Rob Ford at 28% and Chow dropping further to 21%.

Then this crazy race took a turn to the truly bizarre. And John Tory’s path to victory is now-  not so certain.

On Wednesday, September 10, Rob Ford checked himself into the hospital complaining of severe stomach pains.

By Friday, September 12, it was clear that Rob Ford may be suffering from life-threatening cancer. As a result, Rob Ford withdrew from the mayor al race and was replaced by his brother and his campaign manager, Doug Ford.

Forum Research conducted a snap poll that same day. And contrary to the pundits, revealed some surprising results.

Doug Ford was breathing down Tory’s neck

Tory’s support had increased to 41%, but now Doug Ford was breathing down Tory’s neck at 34%, just 7 points behind. And Chow had fallen further behind at 19%.

As with Rob Ford, Doug Ford’s support is with lower income residents, men and suburbanites.

As I expected,  80% of Ford Nation which supported Rob Ford will support Doug Ford.

Doug Ford leads among those residents earning between $20,000-60,000, Toronto’s heartland.

Also he is more competitive than Rob Ford, in the suburbs: Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.

John Tory should be afraid. He should be very afraid.

To date Tory’s campaign, though well-managed and well-funded, has been quite lackluster.

Tory has primarily campaigned on the basis that he is fiscally as responsible as Rob Ford, but without the drama and questionable behavior.
Accordingly, many Toronto voters, who liked Rob Ford’s fiscal policies, but were personally offended by Rob Ford’s personal issues, parked their votes with Tory.

With the arrival of Doug Ford on the scene, a straight-laced family man, teetotaler and tough fiscal conservative- Toronto voters have another choice other than John Tory and the socially conscious Olivia Chow.

John Tory has a sorry political history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory ( public funding of faith-based private schools)  with some of the worst political instincts in Canadian political history (recall his negative advertising of Jean Chretien’s partially paralyzed face during the Kim Campbell campaign debacle).

On Friday, as Doug Ford, the Ford family and Ford supporters were still reeling from news that Rob Ford had withdrawn from the mayoral race and was potentially suffering life-threatening cancer, John Tory exhibited his signature political tone deafness of which he is infamous.

Instead of just wishing Rob Ford a speedy recovery, Tory decided to take this opportunity to attack Doug Ford for being divisive and for probably being a much worse mayor than Rob Ford. Tory’s diatribe was shameful and low.  Hitting Doug Ford,  a man who is down and grieving for the health of his brother whom he truly loves.  Tory demonstrated a true lack of class. With this performance, Tory came across as a hard, self-entitled, insensitive twit.

So much for John Tory’s alleged likeability factor.

In contrast, Doug Ford, that same Friday night,  spoke movingly of his brother’s condition and that he, Doug,  had decided, reluctantly at the request of his brother,  to take up the torch of his brother and continue his brother’s fight. Doug Ford, was thoughtful, emotional,  warm, compassionate, humbled, diplomatic and subdued.

Contrary to the pundits, he did not lash out against John Tory’s earlier criticism.

Doug Ford is smart, disciplined, charitable, generous and a caring family man.

I fully suspect that in the next six weeks of the campaign, Toronto voters will become familiar with these positive qualities of Doug Ford.

Doug Ford will be a formidable opponent to John Tory.

And this exciting race ain’t over yet, folks!

I Support Rob Ford: The Man and His Policies

I believe Mayor Rob Ford will be re-elected.

Some of you Ford haters, critics and doubters may question my position.

You may rightly retort that all the polls suggest Ford will lose to Chow and Tory, in some hypothetical political match-ups.

All I can say is the so-called expert pollsters had NDP Adrian Dix beating Liberal Christy Clark for BC Premier. Or Wildrose leader Danielle Smith beating Alison Redford for Alberta Premier. Or the Federal Liberal candidate beating the Tory candidate in the recent Federal by-election in the Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris.

The only relevant finding is that despite the continuous 24/7 anti-Ford feeding frenzy by old media, Ford’ssupport and approval rating have held steady in the 40 per cent range.

Unlike these robo-calling pollsters, my associates and I have actually gone out into the field, into the darkest, deepest Ford Nation, (Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough). We have talked to real people about Ford.

For months I have been writing that Ford Nation is staying with Ford. That itssupport and loyalty are growing. And that Ford is the man to beat.

Still these pollsters and old media types cannot believe why Ford Nation is sticking with Ford.

So they have come up with another cockamamie theory: Ford supporters support Ford’s fiscal agenda, but not Ford the man himself. So if another candidate (read, more presentable candidate) can espouse a conservative fiscal agenda, then John Tory can grab Ford Nation support and Ford will be defeated.

Excuse me while I go all Marshall McLuhan.

Ford is both the message and the medium. The message and the messenger. The people trust Ford to deliver on his hard-nosed, tight-fisted fiscal agenda of stubbornly keeping the rise of taxes low, city expenditures moderate and to respect taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.

I believe Ford supporters do not trust Stintz, Tory or Minnan Wong to support, fight and implement a strong and stubborn Ford fiscal agenda.

Tory will always talk and talk and talk a good game. But Tory will cave to his elitist buddies. And in the end, he will deep six the Scarborough subway out of deference to Metrolinx Chairman Prichard, and cave to garbage union and city workers. He will also put the brakes on Porter Air expansion.

I think Olivia Chow would be worse.

I believe Chow would stop Porter Air in deference to her base, the elitist/NIMBY Toronto Islanders living on very expensive city island properties. She would undo privatization of garbage and re-institute city union jobs for life with overgenerous pensions. She would increase property taxes and land transfer taxes on home owners to further her tax and social/infrastructure agenda. In other words, a return to pre-Miller days of anti-biz and anti-development.

But what has solidified Ford Nation’s support for Ford is his public performanceduring the recent nine day power crisis. Ford was focused. He gave daily updates to the media and the people. He was genuine and sympathetic.

He stayed in Toronto in the cold and helped while his deputy mayor flew off to sunny Florida. Ford often showed up at cold apartments and homes, trying to lend a hand. Ford did what he has always done best: looking after the little important things that mean so much to the people like warm food and getting the lights and power on for Toronto residents.

Ford supporters are ready for Chow and Tory. They will leave no stone unturned, no subsidized apartment unquestioned. Bring it on! Let the games begin.

Don’t Compare the Liberals’ $1.1 Billion Gas Plant Scandal to Rob Ford’s Scarborough Subway

The Toronto Star is still very upset that Mayor Ford has not taken its sage advice and resigned as Toronto’s Mayor.

For several months, the Star has been reporting on: Ford being caught in a video allegedly smoking crack cocaine, Ford’s public drunkenness, his profanity, his filmed meetings with his driver, police surveillance of Ford and a whole host of other improper conduct.

The Star‘s Editorial Board has called for Ford’s resignation, multiple times.

But to no avail.

Ford has not resigned and quit.

In fact, he has vowed to stand and fight.

Recent polls indicated that Ford Nation is standing tall with Ford.

In fact, I believe that Ford’s support is actually increasing in response to the constant full on media feeding frenzy led by the Star.

Recent polls also indicate, that notwithstanding the public beating that Ford has been taking in the domestic and international press, his support at 34 per cent for re-election is just 3 points below Olivia Chow, Ford’s putative competitor in the next mayoral election.

Incredibly, not only is Mayor Ford going to ride out his term as Mayor, but he has a very good chance of being re-elected in 2014.

Ford and his staunch supporters are also fighting back publicly, online and in social media, by pointing out that Ford’s conduct pales in comparison to the Ontario Liberals’ gas plant scandal in blowing $1.1. billion of taxpayer money in order to secure four provincial Liberal seats in the last provincial election.

You can almost see the heads of the editors and reporters, exploding, in frustration, at the Star‘s head office.

Accordingly, the Toronto Star has launched a counter-attack to Ford’s counter-attack.

In Friday’s editorial the Star claimed that by Ford standing up for the rights of the Scarborough residents to have a subway extension from Kennedy Road subway stop to the Scarborough Town Centre, “Ford is guilty of the same wasteful offence” as the Liberals’ blowing $1.1 billion on the gas plant scandals.

I kid you not. These are the Star‘s exact words. Read them and weep for the Stareditorial board losing all reason and objectivity. And for publicly shredding its journalistic integrity and reputation.

I believe that the Star has not merely wounded itself. With this way over the top anti-Ford editorial, the Star has publicly disemboweled itself, journalistically speaking.

“Ford is quick to attack McGuinty for the gas plant scandal. Fair enough. We too have criticized the former premier, in this space, for that fiasco. But Ford is guilty of the same wasteful offence.”

The Star further argues:

“He (Ford) flushed away $100 million of taxpayers’ money to please Scarborough residents expecting delivery on a reckless “subways, subways, subways” promise. That’s $100 million in sunk costs gone to buy — nothing.

I will try to address some of the Star‘s arguments and conclusions.

Firstly, it is without dispute that the Liberals wasted $1.1 billion dollars in a selfish attempt to secure 4 seats.

The Star accused Ford of the same offence, though clearly the Liberals blew $1.1 billion to Ford’s alleged $100 million. In what universe is this the same offence? Monetarily speaking, clearly it is not.

Secondly, in fact Ford did not blow $100 million. He also did not flush away $100 million to please or pander to (as the Star alleges) Scarborough residents expecting delivery on a reckless subways promise.

For years as a councillor Ford was a genuine supporter of subways over streetcars or light rapid transit (LRT).

For years, Scarborough residents have been pleading for a subway in their area, because they were sick and tired of taking substandard transit, ie buses and an old rapid transit system. They were sick and tired of seeing their hard-earned tax dollars going to pay for the subway transit needs of their more affluent neighbors to the south in Old Toronto. Old Toronto residents enjoyed the Bloor, Yonge and University subways.

Mayor Ford, unlike just about every other municipal, provincial or federal politician listened to Scarberians and then fought tenaciously for them like a stubborn, pugnacious bull-headed pit bull for subways against all the so-called urban transit experts. And against many of his fellow councilors.

When Ford ran for mayor in 2010, his mantra was “subways, subways, subway.” A simple but very effective political message and political promise. A transit solution in which he deeply and sincerely believed. And was in response to his voters’ wishes.

“Subways, subways, subways,” is not a reckless promise as inaccurately portrayed by the Star. Even Marcus Gee of the Globe, no fan of Ford, concedes that this subway extension is needed and justified.

McGuinty sincerely believed in cancelling the gas plants. But he feared losing seats in Mississauga and Oakville. So he abandoned his principles for votes. That is pandering.

What Ford did in supporting subways is not pandering. That is true democracy, a concept obviously lost on the Toronto Star, which appears to prefer rule by the privileged unelected few. And policymaking by non-partisan so-called experts, aka Metrolinx, who are clearly insensitive to the actual people for which they are working.

To both the Star and Metrolinx, politics, that is, listening to and being responsive to the actual transit wishes of Scarborough residents, seems to be a dirty word.

Metrolinx reminds me of those brilliant non partisan urban experts, who conceived of the ill-fated Spadina Expressway, which was to build a major expressway through the communities of Cedarvale, Forest Hill and the Annex, contrary to the wishes of the residents affected.

As to the Star‘s claim that Ford blew $100 million of sunk costs, my money is on theOntario government once again unnecessarily paying out claims and costs, instead of challenging these contracts and costs in court, as was the case in the Mississauga andOakville gas plants.

Ironically, the more the Star goes after Ford, the more its reputation for fairness and objectivity is undermined.