It’s far too early to write off the Ford administration. So early that I really, really wanted to write, It’s way too early to write off the Ford administration. But I really, really detest that adverbial use of the word. You sound like a teenager. Or sportscaster.
More formally, reports of the Ford administration’s death are greatly exaggerated. Premature ejection from the seat of power. I think what we’re witnessing is a wheel coming off their ride, maybe two. It’s broken, just not beyond repair.
For the first time probably since Rob Ford announced his intentions to run for mayor back in March of 2010, he has lost his ironclad grip on the narrative. Reality is no longer bending to his will. Facts pile up, making it increasingly difficult for Team Ford to frame the debate to their advantage. The story they’ve spun to great success so far is crumbling, the scaffolding upon which it was built, too flimsy to bear the weight. Thin air and pixie dust prove to be fickle, unstable elements.
This often times happens when a protest movement assumes the reins of power. As anyone who’s ever taken an improv class knows, the easier option is always to say no. It also leads to the least interesting outcome.
A protest movement coalescing around a faulty premise is especially prone to an early flame-out. The mayor campaigned against out of control spending, waste and gravy. Turns out he may’ve been exaggerating just a smidge. Even outside consultants, KPMG, couldn’t uncover much of the stuff. Certainly nowhere near the amount the mayor removed from the city’s revenue stream by axing the VRT and freezing property taxes.
So cuts became efficiencies became nice to haves. The plain speakin’, tells it like it is, looking out for the little guy persona that the mayor had expertly cultivated begins to lose its populist sheen. The more he tries to plug the holes in his story, the more he starts to sound like a seasoned insider. Macbeth like, he’s now knee deep in the blood from the corpses of lies he’s had to kill in a vain attempt to stop them from turning on him.
Oddly, it’s the waterfront, an issue the mayor barely expressed any interest in while campaigning that seems to have caught him most effectively with a shot to the chin. Perhaps he and his brother made their move too soon when Doug started calling Waterfront Toronto unflattering names back in the spring. It left ample time and space for its advocates and defenders to mount their defense. And these weren’t the usual suspects that Team Ford could easily dismiss. The downtown elite. The left wing kooks and unionists. The statistically invalid.
No, these were players. Urban planners. Respected academics. Richard Florida is set to break his silence about governance in his adopted home town in defence of Waterfront Toronto. David Crombie. David Fucking Crombie.
So strong has the pushback been, the barricades so robustly manned, that once mute and pliable allies are now emerging from their hovels to speak out against the mayor’s plan. Councillor Peter Milczyn did so meekly, referring to the Ford waterfront idea as ‘a visionary exercise’ that, unfortunately, ‘blew up in our faces’. Councillor Jaye Robinson was much more forceful, stating outright her confidence in Waterfront Toronto and that she would not be supporting the mayor when this item goes to council next week for a vote.
A close vote, Councillor Robinson predicts, but frankly, I don’t think it’s going to come to that. This is not the hill Mayor Ford is willing to die on nor will he want to see his brother hung out to dry on a losing end of an issue he was so front-and-centre on. No, before council gets to knock this one out of the park, it will be amended to the point of meaninglessness, tossed under the bus of further staff review and committee study where it will die a quiet, unnoticed death.
The mayor has bigger fish to fry and is now stepping into the fall of our growing discontent, the haunting spectre of budget battles looming, weakened by a terrible, terrible summer. But it is early still. Much political capital has been expended yet the mayor has powerful tools at his disposal. In fact, if he plays this right and can back off gracefully, be seen to concede and bow to the will of public support, it could ultimately help him continue to push his agenda through. See? I listened. I made concessions. I’m a reasonable guy. I can play along nicely with others. What are you going to do for me now?
It could happen although that doesn’t seem to be part of the mayor’s constitution, to admit he was wrong and to backtrack. Instead he will probably attempt to change the channel, lumber forward having learned almost nothing from this set back. This administration does not blink, we’ve been warned.
What the mayor’s opponents need to take away from this show of democratic muscle is that it’s not simply enough to stand up to the mayor and say no. There needs to be a plan in place to counter each and every one of his ill-advised proposals. Power, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Mayor Ford has succeeded in sucking all the air out of the room. It is now a race to fill it back up again. By virtue of the powers of his office, the mayor still has a leg up against his competition. The self-inflicted wound he’s just administered, though, has hobbled him and added a new bounce into his challengers’ step.
– elbaly submitted by Cityslikr