Keith Topolski looks at how Rob Ford can admit to drug use, yet retain steady approval as Toronto Mayor.
Basic human psychology tells us that people don’t like to be wrong. They don’t like to be told they’re wrong, either.
In 2010, the city of Toronto was a basketcase because it was being used to create a socialist utopia. As Kelly McParland in the National Post writes:
Voters were fed up with eight years of financial profligacy by a left-wing council that treated the city like a cookie jar they could use to finance personal fantasy projects. Grass roofs, bike lanes, taxpayer-financed self-glorifying retirement parties, legal crusades on the public dime to defend the wounded feelings of oversensitive councillors, an arrogant union environment in which labour bosses assumed they could have their way if they simply issued enough threats.
Consequently, the mainstream residents of Toronto (that is, anyone whose politics are to the right of Karl Marx) elected Rob Ford as Mayor.
It is worth remembering that, when he was elected in 2010, Rob Ford’s rather questionable personal behaviour was put out for all to see and, yet, he still pulled 47% of the vote, ahead of the preferred candidate of the progressive establishment, who had a spotty record when it came to spending public money.
I raise this because it goes to the heart of why Ford was elected and why progressives despise him with a hatred rivalled only by the intensity with which Fairfax loathes Tony Abbott.
See, Rob Ford is a fiscal liberal in every true sense of the word. He went after the union movement and pulled them in to line. He repealed a $60 car registration tax implemented by the left. He subcontracted out half the city’s garbage collection. He declared Toronto’s transit an essential service, which, under local laws, transit workers were banned from going on strike.
It’s enough to make any conservative shed a tear of joy. And, of course, enough to make any genuine progressive apoplectic.
Which explains why the progressive media (Sorry for the tautology) have made such a big deal out of going after Ford, and why the handful in the rest of the media just don’t get the whole debacle.
To properly understand where the concept of Ford Nation comes from, all we have to do is simply look at the electoral map from Rob Ford’s 2010 victory.
As you can see, The pre-1997 edition of Toronto was Marrickville on steroids. However, in 1997 the old Toronto City Council merged with surrounding councils to form a megacouncil which takes in almost all of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Since then, it has been the progressive Marrickville type issues which very few people have time to worry about (And which they wouldn’t care about even if they had the time) dominating inner Toronto, and more mainstream issues, like roads, rubbish, childcare and taxes, which dominate Ford Nation in the suburbs.
This divide has motivated the inner city to try and take back ‘their’ city, and their media arm has pursued Rob Ford to hell and back. I can’t put it any better, so I’ll let Michael Coren of the Toronto Sun say it:
It says a great deal, however, that a mayor of Toronto with more hidden skeletons than Hannibal Lecter can still run the city most efficiently and far more economically than a leftist predecessor who was a squeaky clean gentleman. It’s that, of course, that so irritates the grimy coalition so enraged at Ford.
Contrast this with the rather softer reception Justin Trudeau has had since he admitted that, as a serving Member of Parliament who is sworn to discharge his duties in accordance with the law, admitted, almost proudly, to puffing on a joint in breach of the law.
No, Justin gets off easy because he’s part of the progressive love-in. Speaking of love-ins, Justin’s old man, Pierre, Canada’s most famous ex-PM, was no slouch in that department, but everyone thought that was adorable for some reason.
No, judging from the coverage of other scandals, it seems Rob Ford’s real crime has been to be a politician who preaches the virtues of small government, and also delivering on a smaller government.
This is where Ford Nation’s loyalty should end, though.
Ford has delivered what he said he would. Surely, now, is the time to let him go.
Well, actually, no. This is simply the Pauline Hanson phenomenon repeating itself.
When Hanson first came onto the scene, she outlined a philosophical framework which was, save for one or two observations about affirmative action, overwhelmingly out there.
Instead of go after the policies, Labor went after the person. And conservative Australians, who had some sympathy for Hanson’s arguments but not enough to vote for her, were pushed into her corner in order to defend her from the bullying of the big bad leftie.
This is exactly the reaction that Ford Nation is having in defending a man from what is, really, indefensible behaviour.
Except the political apparatus working against Rob Ford also includes the Toronto police chief, who made comments which, if were made about any private citizen, would immediately create grounds for mistrials until the apocalypse.
Federal Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair is even trying to link Ford to Stephen Harper over this episode, simply because all conservatives must now be crack smokers if one of them is. Can’t see why that argument wouldn’t stand up.
So it has come to pass that Rob Ford, a man who should now be in rehab and addressing his considerable personal problems, will continue as Mayor, in a diminished capacity, while the leftist media use him for target practice.
I have always believed that voters can forgive most things in politicians, but never hypocrisy.
However, Rob Ford continues as Mayor with the blessing of, what should be, the very type of conservative voters who would hound a drug addicted hypocrite from office.
This is what happens when a broad movement, in this case the Toronto leftie elite, treat average people with contempt.
If the anti-Ford brigade are to have any chance of stopping Rob Ford, incredulously, being returned as Mayor next year, they must ask themselves, in the manner of Michael Sheen’s portrayal of Tony Blair, “How much Why must do they hate us if they like this lot guy more?”
Keith Topolski is a regular contributor to Menzies House, with a particular focus on Canadian politics.