On November 26, 2012, Rob Ford was offically removed from office for violating the Municipal Conflict-of-Interest Act. The charges stemmed from seemingly-benign donations to Ford’s football foundation, and his refusal to repay $3,150 out of his own pocket. However, this was just the latest in a long string of unflattering actions showing Ford to be utterly incapable of leadership, and unable to take any responsibility for his mistakes.
As an embarrassed former Ford supporter (a confession which I made a few months back) it didn’t take me long to realize I had supported the wrong candidate. From the very moment he was inagurated, by Don Cherry of all people, we knew we were in for a rough ride. Cherry was downright insulting during the ceremony, attacking “pinko commies” for their support of bike lanes, and bragging about the major changes Ford was expected to bring. The vitriol and anger being spouted during the inaguration were just a sign of things to come.
Ford’s divisive attitude showed itself throughout the acrimonious transit debate, with Ford initially declaring “Transit City is over” as if he had the power to unilaterally make that decision for the city. After Council rejected his proposal and re-opened the debate, his refrain of “Subways! Subways! Subways!” became more of a joke than a platform. Later, his steadfast refusal to attend the Pride Parade (or even make an appearance at any Pride-related events) was excused by his claim to be “too busy” and his insistence that “Family comes first.” When Ford was caught reading while driving, his excuse was “I’m a busy guy,” as if his job made it acceptable to put other drivers at risk. When it became clear that Ford was using his influence to expedite repairs outside his family business, and using city staff to coach his football team, he even lost the support of Canadian Taxpayers Federation, formerly one of his strongest supporters. Finally, when two TTC buses dumped their riders on the side of the road (in the rain no less) to pick up Ford’s football team because their game ended 45 minutes early, who’s fault was it? Not Ford’s, of course; it was the police who ordered the buses. Ford, who made two phone calls to TTC Chair Andy Byford’s cell phone, simply claimed that it had “nothing to do with me.”
All of Ford’s foibles even led former Mayor Mel Lastman to comment, “I’m not a genius, obviously, but he makes me look like one.” Humour aside, Mel had a point; as the first Mayor of post-amalgamated Toronto, he had to unite a number of former municipalities under the Toronto banner, and had to build consensus and govern through compromise. Mel was a man with many character flaws, but he rarely allowed those to impede his work; his primary focus was always on how to bring the people of Toronto together, from the furthest suburbs to the centre of downtown. Ford took the opposite approach, insulting and attacking any who disagreed with him as the so-called “downtown elite” while claiming to be a man of the suburbs, rather than a man of the city. Of course, I had my own opinion on Mel Lastman’s comments:
It’s true, Rob Ford really does make Mel Lastman “Look like a genius”. Then again, Rob Ford makes a houseplant look like a genius. #TOpoli
— Nikki Thomas (@MsNikkiThomas) October 11, 2012
When hearing Ford speak, one couldn’t help but think of Eric Cartman’s protestations - “Whateva, I’ll do what I want!” Ford’s steadfast refusal to take responsibility for any of his mistakes, and his inability to be the least bit contrite when exercising poor judgement, put a massive bullseye on his forehead that Paul Madger and Clayton Ruby were more than happy to target.
Which bring us full-circle to the conflict-of-interest allegations that ultimately led to his dismissal. A humble leader would have simply paid back the money before it became such an issue. An intelligent leader would have recognized the gravity of the situation before it all came to a head, and would have recused themselves from the vote when informed it would constitute a conflict of interest. A careful leader would have taken the time to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations, before taking the highest office in the city. And a wise leader would have surrounded themselves with learned and skilled assistants who would have notified them when something was amiss, instead of siblings and sycophants chosen not for their skills in council, but for the loudness of their voice on the radio or their history as U of T quarterbacks.
Rob Ford has truly been the master of his own demise, and his pathetic downfall was not due to any left-wing conspiracy – it was simply the last, wheezing gasp of a mayor who tried to do one too many end-runs around the rules.