Permanent Campaigning

February 23, 2012

Having lost his once iron clad control of city council – and no mayor should lose an iron clad control of city council this early into a first term, at least, and not still be able to claim to have a ‘mandate’ – it looks like Mayor Ford has moved into outright permanent campaign mode. Yep. Fuck governing. That’s for egg-headed losers. We’re heading back out to the hustings where the mayor is most at home, amongst… I’m sorry… among the little guys and mall folk.

So the Brothers Ford make a weekly pilgrimage out to shopping centres in Scarborough where not 90%, not 99%, but 100% of shoppers who very likely drove to their destination want subways. Today the mayor’s opining (press releasing?) in the pages of the Globe and Mail. Whoah! The Globe? That’s some latté reading material there. Thought for sure that’d be news more fit for the Sun. No need, Your Worship. We’ve got your back. Here, here and here. (And that’s not even tapping the official Ford stenographer, Sue Ann Levy.)

Then, comes the big news. Bumping one-time centrist and now arch-enemy, Councillor Josh Matlow, from the airwaves, the mayor and his councillor brother will take over as co-hosts (co-mayors why not co-hosts) of 1010 talk radio’s Sunday afternoon political gabfest, The City. “This is our first opportunity ever to get our message out,” Councillor Ford told the Sun.

[Insert typeface here, denoting peels of belly laughter, followed by tears of mirth and ending with convulsive dry heaves from laughing so long and hard. What would that be, Franklin Gothic Book? Gill Sans MT?]

Aside from the stunningly delusional aspect of that statement, I mean, has there been a first term councillor who has received as much press, been offered up as many media platforms and opportunities to get the message out as Councillor Ford? I know out-going host Councillor Matlow has been accused by many of being a media hound but the real newcomer to council headline stealer is surely the mayor’s brother. How could it not be?

But note too the hint of victimization in the councillor’s assertion. The ‘first opportunity’? Really? Never mind as a sitting councillor back in the day, Rob Ford was a regular guest on John Oakley’s talk show but is Councillor Ford really trying to convince anyone that his brother, as the mayor of Toronto for nearly 18 months, has been ignored, his message kept boxed up?

On the Jerry Agar show this morning to announce their new role as radio guys, the councillor elaborated on that thought. “You’re not going to have the media twisting it around like they have the last year and a half.” Oh, my. Can I get you a little whine with that bitter greens salad, monsieur? How about a soother with that double double, councillor?

It constantly amazes me how these bully boy, tough guy conservative politicians get away with this damsels in distress schtick. Don’t their fanboys cringe just a little? What kind of cognitive dissonance do you need to operate with to buy into the notion that the sissy, downtown effete elite of the mainstream media are always picking on poor little Robbie and never letting him play and always twisting his words around?

Don’t we encourage our children to learn how to take responsibility for their actions and the outcomes that result because of them? It’s a little embarrassing to hear grown men constantly complain about always being taken out of context or having their word twisted. Or blaming other people for their failures.

And fail the Ford Brothers have. After a year plus of successfully pushing their agenda through city council, repealing taxes, reducing budgets, cutting and outsourcing services, they have lost control of the vehicle after hitting a bumpy patch on the road. It was inevitable. Not because of who they are but because that just happens when you’re in power especially at a non-party affiliated municipal level. Everything doesn’t just go your way with a wave of the hand and a loud proclamation.

You have to govern. You have to orchestrate a consensus. You have to lead and make a majority of your elected colleagues want to follow you, sometimes because it’s the right thing to do but other times because it’s the smart political thing to do.

Team Ford has given up on governing and simply kicked off its re-election campaign. It’s just easier. Whistle-stopping in front of welcoming crowds rather than debating with hostile councillors. Taking (screened) friendly calls from radio listeners instead of having to pretend to listen to opposing opinions from the usual suspect that line up to give public deputations. Running a city is hard. Running a campaign, well, any idiot can do that.

While the mayor and his brother are out on the stump, trying to revive the awesomeness of Ford Nation and get it into fighting shape once more in order to scare councillors back into the fold, council needs to just go about the business it was elected to do and, you know, govern the city. We’ve said it before but it bears repeating, Mayor Ford and Councillor Ford are only 2 votes. Yes, the power of the mayor’s office allows the two of them to gum up the works and grind things to a halt if they decide they don’t want to play along nicely or even collegially if their version (I will not say ‘vision’) of Toronto is the only one they’re willing to work for.

So be it.

In two and a half years’ time, one of two outcomes will be facing the mayor when he goes to the voters asking for their support again. Very little’s happened during his tenure as mayor and people are asking if they are better off than they were four years earlier. Mayor Ford’s ‘landslide’ victory in 2010 wasn’t so landslide-y that he could afford to have very many of his supporters answer that question negatively.

Or, the city’s humming along fine, transit is being built, services have been maintained at acceptable levels, people are generally happier than they were the last time they went to the polls, all while Mayor Ford has been on the outside, campaigning about just how bad it is at City Hall and regularly on the wrong side of every vote. Unable to claim much credit for any sort of turnaround, he’ll be running on essentially a platform of 4 More Years Of Contributing Nothing!

That’s a far cry from stopping the gravy train and reminds me of the old adage about lightning not striking the same place twice.

abdicatingly submitted by Cityslikr


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