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.

Rob Ford Is Getting His Groove Back

This has been a good week for Rob Ford’s campaign for re-election as Toronto’s mayor in 2014.

Say what?

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.

Why Council’s Motions Could Be a Win for Rob Ford

On Friday, Toronto city council, through a series of quick and overwhelming motions, stripped Mayor Rob Ford of some of his mayoral powers.

This is a win for City Council, but also a win for Mayor Ford.

I know that this latter statement seems counter-intuitive.

But we are entering into unchartered territory here. And we may have crossed into the “Twilight Zone” of unintended consequences.

Cue the classic, spooky, “Twilight Zone” theme music.

With apologies to Rod Serling:

We’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; and of drug-dealing crackheads, a journey into a wondrous and strange land, called Toronto City Hall, whose municipal boundaries are that of imagination, sketchy cellphone videos and police wiretaps. Your next stop…the Twilight Zone.

According to the Globe, the motions were as follows:

“Councillors voted 39-3 to take away Mr. Ford’s ability to appoint and fire the chairs of the city’s standing committees and the deputy mayor. They also voted 41-2 to give his powers in an emergency to the deputy mayor.

On Monday, councillors will consider delegating to the deputy mayor “all powers and duties which are not by statute assigned to the mayor.” Under the initiative, Mr. Ford would get the same office budget as a councillor …. Mr. Kelly would replace Mr. Ford as chair of the cabinet-like executive committee. Mr. Ford would no longer have the right to cast a vote at any standing committee.”

The effect of these motions is that Toronto city council is unified in its condemnation of Ford’s personal actions. These motions demonstrate, according to councillor Filion, that Council is capable of functioning well and doing the work of the City, despite Ford’s misbehaviour.

Councillor Perruzza concluded that these votes helped restore some order to City Hall. And the mayor is still the mayor, the council is still the council. And the effect of these votes provides council and the city with a much more balanced form for council to move forward and conduct the business of the city in a much calmer, tamer, more sober environment.

Through these actions council has shot itself in the foot. The premier can no longer justify intervening to remove mayor from office because it would make city council seem incapable of handling its own affairs and politically insignificant.

But these measures also boost Ford, paradoxically.

And this is where the “Twilight Zone” analogy applies.

I believe that as a result of these motions, public and political pressure on Ford to resign will significantly diminish.

Notwithstanding further revelations damaging to Ford, Ford and council can now argue that the city is functioning perfectly well. And these are mere distractions, which do not interfere with council carrying on important city business. Council has inoculated Ford against further attack.

Though these council motions may be legal, they do not seem democratic. These motions may or may not reflect the will of the people who did elect Ford in the last election by an overwhelming margin. It is arguable that opponents of Ford on council are doing undemocratically what they could not do democratically at the polls.

The effect of these motions may transform Ford into a more sympathetic character. A martyr. And solidify his base and increase his support among other Toronto voters.

If Ford’s legal efforts overturn some of these council measures, Ford’s stock will further rise.

Note that council has confirmed the status quo as to committee appointments. These are all Ford appointees. Presumably, they still support Ford’s conservative and fiscal policies.

The leftists on council may have only won a Pyrrhic victory against Ford.

Because the left has not altered Ford’s conservative polices, at least to date.

In fact, leftist opponents on council, the Vaughans and Matlows may have checkmated themselves.

The moderates and conservatives on council have always argued that they support most of Ford’s conservative policies and programs. But such policies and programs have been undermined by his personal behaviour, implying that in the absence of Ford, they will continue to support these policies and programs.

Now that Ford has been stripped of some of his powers, these same councillors cannot backtrack on supporting these policies. Otherwise, their bona fides in attacking Ford on his personal actions may be questioned.

Similarly, the left has been weakened in challenging Ford’s policies. Because to do so seems not only unjust in view of what the councillors have done to Ford, but such actions would undermine the very reasons why they purportedly attacked Ford.

In other words, the left has to be very careful because they could be rightfully accused of attacking Ford not because they found his behaviour distasteful, but for ideological reasons.

This is a further win for Ford because as long as he is mayor, he still has legitimacy, credibility and a strong platform and bully pulpit from which to promote his candidacy for mayor in the next election.

Toronto Council must continue to act on the Ford Agenda of the last three years. Any divergence from that agenda calls into question the bona fides of those councillors in stripping Ford of his powers.

Any divergence from those Ford policies will give Ford further ammunition to use against his opponents in the next election.

Rob Ford is still a significant political force, both now and in next year’s mayoral race.

According to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos Reid, 40 per cent of respondents approved of the mayor’s personal job performance — a significant bedrock of support given recent events. He also had the trust of 34 per cent of residents and he received a 30 per cent credibility rating.

I still like his chances against Chow, Tory and Stintz.

Why Rob Ford Will Always Have the Support of Young Toronto Elites

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?

Say what?

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.