Chow’s Hong Kong Identity Politics Could Backfire

PQ’s Pauline Marois exploitation of identity politics in the Quebec election appears to have backfired disastrously for Marois and her party.

Marois played the Quebec “pure laine” identity card with her proposed Charter of Anti-Canadian Values.

As a result Marois is on the brink of ignominious defeat.

You would think that Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow would have learned from Marois’ fatal mistake.

But Chow is an old-fashioned politician, who has been successful in the past in using her ethnic Asian identity in her federal campaigns in Trinity-Spadina.

I guess old habits die hard.

Hence, in a move to counter Ford eating away at her base, Chow has tried to exploit her Hong Kong background by reaching strangely all the way out to Hong Kong for the votes of Hong Kong residents with Canadian passports and property in Toronto.

As reported in Reuters:

“Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow has urged tens of thousands of Torontonians living in Hong Kong to help end the ’embarrassment’ of having Rob Ford as leader of Canada’s biggest city.'”

Chow, whose family migrated from Hong Kong to Canada when she was 13, told the South China Morning Post on Tuesday that Toronto residents living in Hong Kong shared the “sense of shame” that came from having a crack-smoking mayor.

The former MP for the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) said Canadian citizens in Hong Kong who were eligible to vote in October’s municipal elections had the chance to restore pride to Toronto.”

I believe that Chow’s basic message of being a struggling immigrant has not resonated with her base or potential base.

In a recent Forum Research poll:

“Mayor Rob Ford’s approval is especially common to
the youngest (under 35 ‐ 56%), males (51%), the least wealthy (less than $20K ‐
60%), in North York (56%) and Scarborough (57%), but not downtown (26%), among
the least educated (secondary school or less ‐ 58%, some college ‐ 61%) and those who drive to work or school (55%).” Mayor Ford also does well with the income group from $20- $40K.

Those groups in Toronto society who are the least educated and whose incomes are from less than $20K-$40K are the heart of Olivia Chow’s base. These groups are sticking with Ford and not gravitating to Chow.

As a result, Chow has made a desperate appeal to Hong Kong residents with Canadian passports.

This identity politics maneuver has been met with serious criticism from many fronts.

As a business consultant, I have advised many Hong Kong residents over the years and assisted them in investing in Canada, acquiring Canadian companies and real estate and securing Canadian citizenships for themselves and their families. I have been in contact with some of these clients and former clients over the past few days and I have inquired if any one of these Hong Kong residents were “embarrassed or shared a sense of shame” in having a crack-smoking Toronto mayor.

Not one of these Hong Kong businessmen shared Chow’s alleged “embarrassment and shame.” They all thought Chow’s approach to them was ignorant, ridiculous and contemptible.

These men are sophisticated investors, businessmen and entrepreneurs — very similar to the Toronto businessmen and bankers I described in a previous article, who support Ford because he is pro business, pro investment, pro development and anti-high taxes.

As long as Toronto remains democratic, a safe haven for investment based upon the rule of law, these Hong Kong residents are supportive of the Ford administration.

As hard-nosed businessmen, they do not give two figs about Ford’s personal behaviour and whether Ford is or is not an embarrassment to the image of Toronto.

They resent Chow’s blatant approach to their ethnic origins and her attempt to exploit their non-existent feelings of shame for her own political purposes.

These Hong Kong residents are also insulted that Chow would try to appeal to their base emotions, as if these sophisticated Hong Kong residents, (some multilingual) are uneducated, unworldly and unsophisticated immigrant types — and because Chow is from Hong Kong and speaks their language, they must follow her without question.

Chow’s base appeal to ethnic origins may have worked in the past with certain new immigrant groups in her Trinity-Spadina riding.

But I predict Chow’s approach has and will fail miserably with the majority of Hong Kong residents as with the majority of Toronto voters.

Chow’s political approach is very old school. Ward/machine politics. But we are no longer in the 1980s.

This mayoral race is about the amalgamated Toronto of 2014, with its diverse communities from Scarborough/East York to Etobicoke and North Toronto to the waterfront and island community.

To date I believe that Chow has come across as “yesterday’s woman.” Out of touch. Unprepared. Inarticulate. Confused about the issues. And not apparently fit for the job of mayor.

In addition, Chow’s surreptitious interview with the South China Morning Post has been exposed, criticized and ridiculed in the Canadian blogosphere. Such scathing criticism has in turn been reported on by the very same South China Post. And debated on CBC radio.

To believe that the future of Toronto should be determined not by the city’s hard-working actual residents, but by wealthy foreigners with little actual connection to Toronto, just looks bad and smells worse.

As above-noted, it is a base appeal to a shared ethnicity and language. There is no platform of ideas, proposals or vision.

To date, Chow’s platform to Hong Kong and Toronto voters simply consists of : “Vote for Olivia Chow because she is not Rob Ford. She is for kids and families. Ford has embarrassed Toronto. Help her remove the shame that Ford man has visited on Toronto.”

Frankly, I believe such an approach exposes the vacuity and shallowness of Chow’s campaign and undermines her integrity and the integrity of her campaign.

Ford Is Rapidly Taking Over Chow Country

I thought former Trinity NDP MP Olivia Chow, would be a formidable challenger to Mayor Rob Ford. But I am starting to have my doubts, as the glow of the brief honeymoon with Chow has dissipated. And Olivia Chow is faltering and fading.

Let me explain.

For several weeks now, my associates and I have been tracking the support of Ford Nation in Mayor Rob Ford’s base — Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough.

We have been talking to folks informally in Tim Hortons, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and in bus stops and subways.

We have been calling, emailing and Facebooking known Fordites.

As we suspected, the support for Ford is holding steady, notwithstanding the arrival of such high profile politicos as Chow and John Tory.

But something strange is also happening in downtown Toronto — the home of such Ford antagonists as dystopian novelist Maggie Atwood and Jane Jacobs-wannabe, Richard Florida.

Anecdotally, we are hearing that downtown Toronto residents are leaving Olivia Chow and gravitating back to Rob Ford. Notwithstanding the continuous media onslaught against Ford by the Star and Globe — and the overt air-brushing of Chow’s politicalimage, by these very same newspapers.

In a recent Forum Research poll of Toronto voters taken immediately after the first TV debate, Mayor Ford’s support increased from 28 to 32 per cent. While Chow’s support of 36 per cent, (taken on March 16 when Chow first announced her campaign) dropped significantly to 33 per cent. Tory’s support was stable, but unchanged at 21 per cent (22 per cent on March 16).

Mayor Ford’s approval rating has also increased from 42 per cent (March 16) to 46 per cent.

Clearly, Ford benefited from the first debate. Chow’s surprisingly weak performance, hurt her.

Effectively, both Ford and Chow are tied.

We had noticed indications of Ford support in downtown Toronto in a previous informal survey of young Toronto residents. Even prior to the official launching of the Ford, Tory and Chow mayoral campaigns.

Since the first debate, the indications are even stronger that Ford is cutting into Chow Country.

The reasons are obvious.

I believe that Ford is clearly drawing support from midtown and downtown Toronto residents who are pro-business, pro-development, low property taxes, pro-Porter Air, pro-subways and pro-garbage privatization.

Chow, according to her own platform and her public statements, is on the opposite side of all these issues.

Both downtown and midtown Toronto residents appreciate that under the pro-business and pro-development Ford Administration, Toronto has continued to enjoy a construction boom of not only residential condos, but office buildings, as well.

Large Toronto-based companies, banks, life companies and pension funds are not running off to Calgary or Vancouver, but are choosing to stay in Ford’s business-friendly and tax-friendly Toronto. And instead they are building new office complexes downtown for the thousands of employees who prefer living and working in downtown Toronto.

I believe that Chow’s pro-children, pro-families, pro-higher taxes around inflation, pro-social welfare agenda/platform, is not attracting this low-tax/pro-business Toronto crowd.

Chow’s agenda recalls an earlier more left-wing extremist period in Toronto politics, pre-Miller time, when the anti-corporate, pro-tax and spend councilor and former mayor John Sewell (and political friend of Jack Layton) ruled the roost in Toronto city politics in the 1970s.

In other words, the prospect of Olivia Chow being mayor, like the controversial former mayor Sewell, scares many downtown and suburban Toronto residents — shirtless.

I also believe that Chow’s anti-Scarborough subway position has hurt her in her efforts to attract voters in suburban North York and especially in vote-rich Scarborough.

Apparently, Chow has thrown Scarborough residents under the proverbial bus, with her strange anti-subway, pro-bus policy.

Chow’s whole position of Toronto transit has been incredibly incoherent and inconsistent.

This is very surprising because for years Chow was the federal NDP transit critic. For years Chow had been criticizing the Harper government and imploring the said federal government to invest in transit.

Well, last year, PM Harper and Finance Minister Flaherty committed about $660 million to the Scarborough subway extension, with the public support of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

In addition, the Toronto city manager last year concluded that whereas the LRT option would cover a larger geographic area, include seven stations and come at a lower cost, the subway extension option, with only three stations, would have higher speed, higher quality service, higher ridership and no transfer for passengers from one mode to another at Kennedy station.

In other words, the subway option was a superior mode of public transit — higher speed, higher quality service, higher ridership and no transfer for passengers from one mode to another at Kennedy station.

Furthermore, this Scarborough subway option had the support of the Wynne government, the opposition provincial Tories, the majority of the Scarborough city councilors. And Ford had agreed to a dedicated tax in support of this subway.

Notwithstanding the above, Chow still opposes the Scarborough subway and now believes the downtown relief line should not even be an issue in this election.

Chow seems to be parroting the views of fellow leftist SWAG (smug white affluent gentry) councilors Matlow and Perks to the effect that the Scarborough subway is too expensive and Scarborough residents should settle for a cheaper LRT.

These self-centred councilors don’t think that their affluent downtown constituents, through their taxes, should pay for a Scarborough subway, despite the fact that Scarborough residents have been financially supporting three downtown Toronto subway lines for years. And notwithstanding that Scarberians are as deserving of transit benefits as their wealthier neighbors in downtown Toronto.

Wow, who would have thought that Olivia Chow, from a modest immigrant background, would have become so SWAG?

Trudeau’s Lack of Support For Christine Innes Will Hurt Him

Justin Trudeau has done a great disservice to the political career of long time Liberal Christine Innes and candidate for Olivia Chow’s Toronto Trinity-Spadina federal seat.

Trudeau has also seriously undermined the candidacy of his favoured female Toronto candidate, Chrystia Freeland.

Before I elaborate, a brief summary of the facts is in order.

According to National Post columnist Kelly McParland:

“One of the numerous grand promises Mr. Trudeau made on becoming Liberal leader was the pledge to do things differently. No more sneaky backroom shenanigans — only Tories do that. The new improved Trudeau Liberals would be open, honest and accountable. And democratic. Not like Stephen Harper. Mr. Trudeau would be more of a co-ordinator, listening to the party rather than handing down dictates and micromanaging activities.”

Specifically, Trudeau publicly promised that all Liberal nomination meetings in all the federal ridings would be open and democratic.

Recently NDP MP Olivia Chow resigned her federal Trinity-Spadina seat to run for Toronto mayor.

As a result, federal Liberal candidate Christine Innes immediately began organizing her campaign to become the Liberal nominee in the upcoming by-election to fill the Trinity-Spadina seat. Within days, Innes had obtained the endorsement of the local Carpenters’ Union.

To the outside objective political observer, moi, Innes appears to be the ideal candidate, regardless of gender.

Innes is smart, tough, hard-working, articulate, politically experienced and a lawyer by training. She is also very well respected by the powerful provincial Ontario Liberal machine. She is currently a political aide to the Ontario Liberal Tourism Minister Michael Chan.

To her credit, she has run twice against Olivia Chow in the federal elections of 2008 and 2011. Innes lost both times, but in each case, she was very competitive against incumbent Chow, a formidable candidate.

It takes an enormous amount of personal sacrifice, time and money to mount not one but two hard-fought political campaigns.

Frankly, I think Innes should be commended for her political work on behalf of the Liberal party, her tenacity and her willingness to throw her hat in the political ring one more time.

I also think that it is a big plus that she inherited her husband Tony Ianno’s campaign organization and then developed her own strong organization. (Ianno held the riding for the Liberals for 13 years until his loss to Chow in 2006)

The impressive Innes seems Clintonesque in her political drive and ambition.

However, instead of supporting and encouraging Innes’ efforts to win a third nomination, surprisingly and clearly unfairly, Trudeau kiboshed her candidacy and destroyed Innes’ dream of recapturing Trinity-Spadina.

Then Trudeau and his spokesman, David MacNaughton, Ontario campaign co-chair, proceeded to botch the explanation for Trudeau’s unilateral, draconian and undemocratic interference in the riding nomination process.

According to the Post’s McParland, “MacNaughton told Innes she has been banned from running. Ianno, he alleged, had been accused of bad-mouthing Trudeau favourite Chrystia Freeland and trying to ‘bully’ eager young workers into abandoning Freeland for Innes.”

OMG! Ianno committed the heinous crime of criticizing a political opponent. And “bullying” young workers. How absurd and ridiculous.

Innes denied the allegations against her husband, Ianno. But even if what Ianno did is true, so what? Politics is rough, tough, hard, messy, competitive and the ultimate zero sum game where victory goes to the toughest, strongest, most effective and hardest working campaign.

Innes suspected that the real reason for Trudeau’s action is that Innes refused to back away from contesting the nomination against Freeland in the general federal election of 2015, where Freeland was planning on running for the Liberals in a restructured riding which included part of the former Trinity-Spadina riding.

I believe that Trudeau’s intervention has backfired badly — against both him personally and his party.

Liberal Trinity-Spadina riding president Julia Metus was publicly livid. She angrily and publicly denounced Trudeau when she claimed: “There was absolutely no due or fair process…. No one picked up the phone to contact me, there was no opportunity to discuss their concerns, and there was zero local involvement.”

Young Liberal and rising political star, Zach Paikin, son of well-known newscaster Steve Paikin, publicly dropped his candidacy for the Hamilton/Ancaster riding and accused Trudeau of going back on his word.

Ouch. Holy hypocrisy, Justin!

Please note some of Zach Paikin’s gutsy and principled comments published in the Huffington Post. I would like to add to Paikin’s courageous words, that Trudeau has also seriously undermined Chrystia Freeland.

By blocking Innes,Trudeau has sent the public message that Freeland, as a relatively new female candidate, on her own, is too weak and inexperienced a woman to compete against the apparently better organized and more experienced Innes.

Poor defenceless Freeland needs the help of the big boys at national office. So Trudeau has resorted to gaming his own Liberal nomination process. In doing so, in my opinion, Trudeau has acted in a paternalistic and sexist manner.

And he has hurt Innes, Freeland, himself, the Liberal Party and the cause of women in politics.

Does John Tory Have the Right Stuff To Face Off Against Olivia Chow?

As expected, a recent Forum Research poll has Olivia Chow leading as initial front runner with 36 per cent.

Mayor Ford is second with 28 per cent, his support still holding strong.

The big surprise is the third place finish of John Tory, at 22 per cent. In a previous hypothetical match up between Chow, Ford and Tory, Forum Research had Tory at 27 per cent in a February poll.

I propose to offer some hard-nosed political advice as to how Tory can kick start his faltering campaign.

But first, a brief explanation as to why Tory finds himself in third place.

Lorne Bozinoff, President of Forum Research, interpreting the most recent poll results above, concluded:

“These findings represent relative stability for Ford since the company polled him at 31 per cent in February, “while John Tory, who had just entered the race the last time we polled, has seen his vote decline from 27 per cent.”

Marcus Gee of The Globe and Mail attributed Tory’s weak numbers to the fact “Ms. Chow is a strong candidate with an appealing personal story and she is off to a fast start. She can count on the city’s well-organized left.”

As to Ford’s support, Gee concluded, “Mr. Ford has a core of supporters that seems to stick with him whatever he does. Mr. Tory has no such natural base.”

I have already written a series of Huffington Post articles that explain the unwavering support of Ford supporters, who are sticking with Ford, despite all the allegations, videos and Ford’s personal demons.

My conclusion is that Ford’s support is rock solid. But support for Chow, the new politico on the block, is much softer.

And if John Tory wants to grow his numbers, he cannot wait for seven months to connect to the voters.

As Tory claimed in his kick off speech at a downtown Toronto rally this past week.

I believe that that Tory has four to eight weeks to make a forceful and compelling impression on Toronto voters.

Marcus Gee suggests that Tory can be successful in this mayoral race by trying to occupy the happy middle between hard right Ford and tax and spend Chow on the left.

Gee stated: “The essence of Mr. Tory’s message is that he would give voters Mr. Ford’s respect for taxpayers without the divisiveness and the sideshow and Ms. Chow’s care for the disadvantaged without the hard left swing and the reversion to “tax-and-spend.” That would position him neatly in the middle as a caring conservative, the candidate who would take Toronto “not left, not right, but forward.”

In other words, John Tory, wants to present himself as a “Red Tory.”

I have four words for Mr. Tory and his illustrious brain trust: “Joe Clark/Alison Redford.”

Red Toryism is dead federally (Joe Clark/Peter McKay), provincially (has Toryalready forgotten his provincial losses in the provincial ridings of Don Valley West and Dufferin/Peel/Wellington/Grey, and the disastrous 2007 provincial campaign as Ontario PC leader?) and even, municipally.

Today, there is no happy middle in Toronto city politics.

There is the right, which is: pro Scarborough subway, pro Porter Air, pro Porter Air expansion, pro taming unions, pro garbage privatization, pro privatization, pro minimum increase in taxes, anti-government expansion and pro business/private sector.

And the left which is: pro Scarborough LRT, anti-Porter Air, anti-Porter Air expansion, anti-privatization, pro unions, pro larger increase in taxes, pro government expansion and cool to business/private sector.

If Tory thinks that he can straddle these two political poles, and pick some issues from Column A and other issues from Column B, then I guarantee that Tory will alienate Toronto voters from both the right and the left.

And he will achieve a record-breaking sixth political loss.

Alternatively, I suggest that Tory has to come out now — hard, fast and negative against Olivia Chow. He needs to “Harperize” Chow and define her in the public eye, before she defines herself. In order to wrest Chow’s soft supporters, who really do not know the real Olivia Chow, from the Chow camp.

Because Olivia Chow does not come to this city race, without some major political baggage.

Frankly, I am surprised that Nick Kouvalis, Tory’s own answer to Chow’s political attack dog, Warren Kinsella, has not done a better job in the media and the social media of raising serious questions of Chow’s subsidized co-op housing arrangement in the 1980s at the Hazelburn Co-op Apartments.

Chow, in an interview on Sun TV, with her own advisor, the above-mentioned Kinsella, once again stated that she did nothing wrong because she paid “market rent” of $800 for a three-bedroom apartment from 1988-1990.

The Tory campaign should also question whether Chow’s anti-Scarborough subway, pro Scarborough LRT position, is in reality, just Chow pandering to her downtownToronto SWAG/ leftist elitist base.

Chow has many weaknesses.

The question for John Tory is does he have the toughness and cojones to attack and fight Chow and take support away from her, in order to be the next mayor of Toronto?

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.

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.