There was a moment at yesterday’s special TTC commission meeting called to determine the fate of the organization’s Chief General Manager, Gary Webster, we’d all been banished, visiting councillors, media, the public, and had gathered across the hall in committee room # 1. It was pretty much a done deal, the firing of Mr. Webster. Everyone appeared to have accepted that. What was happening was a mini-rally of sorts to save the transit plan city council had given the nod to a couple weeks earlier. (In truth, a plan approved and apparently settled on back in 2007 or so, but unilaterally cancelled by Mayor Ford upon taking office in 2010 and, mysteriously, sort of signed off on by the province which led directly to the events of yesterday and the dismissal of Gary Webster. That’s another story for another time.)
At some point of time during the nearly 3 hour wait for the TTC meeting to return from in-camera and announce its foregone conclusion, somebody asked for a show of hand, either to see who thought the CGM shouldn’t be fired or who was in favour of the transit plan council was trying to push ahead with. Unsurprisingly, Webster received nearly unanimous support as did proceeding full steam ahead with LRTs. Nearly unanimous support. The lone hand up in favour of canning the CGM and for Mayor Ford’s subway plan was the Toronto Sun’s Sue Ann Levy.
But this is not to heap scorn on Ms. Levy. No, no, no. Anything but.
You see, it was at that moment, Sue Ann Levy’s defiant up yours to a room full of adversaries, I had a dreadful epiphany, a low in the gut, sinking feeling, not a bright light striking me on the road to Damascus so much as the god lord’s very stream of urine. Oh my god, I realized. That’s it, man. The answer you’ve been looking for.
As many of you regular readers will know, I’ve been trying to figure out Mayor Ford’s angle for a while now. What’s the end game, I’ve asked as recently as yesterday. It can’t be just some willy-nilly, catch-as-catch-can, random bit of thunder and roar, you will do my bidding or else, meting out retribution to any and all naysayers, Cody Jarrett in White Heat, purely reactive plan, right? There’s got to be something more than just petulance at the core of the mayor’s agenda, doesn’t there?
And here my answer was, masquerading as a journalist who masquerades as a journalist.
The mayor’s going rogue. Again.
You see, he successfully ran for mayor as an outsider, an outsider who’d been at City Hall for 10 years. All those years, almost exclusively on the losing end of council votes, many times very, very lopsided losing votes, had qualified him as an outsider. A determined lone wolf who vowed to curb all the excesses, all the backroom dealings, all the downtown elitist chicanery that had made this city the hell hole it had become.
Upon assuming office, he set about doing his business. Slash councillors’ office budgets and take away their snacks. Eliminate the VRT. Waste Transit City. Partially privatize waste collection. Steamroll municipal workers. Smite, smote, smought. In your face, Howard Moscoe. Rob Ford was passing gas all over City Hall.
Then, he plateaued.
Or did he?
Watching Sue Ann bask in her underdoggery, it struck me that Mayor Ford too operated best as the put upon little guy. The renegade flying in the face of vested interests, opposed at every turn by special interests. Hey. I may not be perfect but I’m indomitable, indefatigable in my efforts to fight City Hall.
One little problem now? As mayor, Rob Ford kind of is City Hall. He’s got the big office, that big-assed chain going around his neck, the mandate. Being mayor ran contrary to the image of being the outsider. The grubby everyman tarnish under threat of gaining lustre.
So what if, what if, and I’m just spit-ballin’ here, Team Ford decided to ease themselves out of pole position? Lose a vote here and there, do and say outrageous things in order to eventually force mass defections, generally act like a dickish 14 year-old with a monstrous sense of entitlement, all in order to alienate yourself from all but the imbeciles and most power hungry on council. A self-inflicted splendid isolation, as Warren Zevon once sang.
Once more, the outsider. Mayor Outsider. Standing up for the good taxpayers of Toronto but besieged from all sides by the usual suspects, the unions, the bureaucrats, left wing loons and teatsuckers. Even as mayor, he pits himself as the lonely voice in the wilderness, trying to do right by the little guy but he’s only one man. The outsider. Remember?
With that, he’s able to again embrace the spirit of victimhood right wing politicians and pundits so love to use in order to inflame outrage, resentment, division. The very thing that propelled him into the mayor’s office. No criticism is sound enough to be anything but self-interest. Disagreements are simply mean spiritedness. If you oppose Mayor Ford, you hate the suburbs.
It’s like wrestling water. A win no matter if it’s a loss. Failures on the mayor’s part have nothing to do with his shortcomings, lack of understanding or inability to arrive at a consensus. It’s all because of some nefarious plotting and underhanded dealings by those more plugged in to the power grid, the mainstream media, those with a hidden agenda, those with the subways. Not the little guys.
He’s endeavouring to go to that well once again by deliberately sabotaging his own performance as mayor. I didn’t fail. They didn’t let me succeed.
A plan so crazy, it just might work.
– on to youly submitted Cityslikr