I live in Etobicoke (sounds like Etobicoe), Mayor Ford’s home territory, one of the suburbs of Toronto that were unceremoniously mashed together some years ago by the reigning provincial government. Etobicoke is the west end of the mega city and Scarborough, where I brought up my children, lies in the east end. To the north lies North York, wouldn’t you know. There are diverse other subdivisions and tucked up in the south and centre, right against the lake is the old city of Toronto.
It is easy enough to find its centre, Queen and Yonge, the old city hall, red, Victorian with its tall clock tower, where certain courts hold forth and across the way, the present city hall with its clam shell and two curving towers of unequal height.
When it comes to Etobicoke, there is no there there. I mean there is no centre, I can see, but I do not see it as Mayor Ford sees it. I’ve heard rumours that there is a town hall where Etobicoke used to actually determine its own fate, but in the seven years I’ve lived here, I’ve never figured out where it is. I haven’t needed to.
Herein lies the rub. The people here are alienated I hear. They are sick of being pushed around by those uppity “elites” (please tell me it isn’t true that some say e-lights), those gravy train wasters from the city centre. That’s why they embraced their native son, Rob Ford, who had pledged to stop the gravy train, reduce spending, privatize garbage collection and put a subway in every burg.
Unhappily, he was unable to discover enough waste to trim the spending significantly, although he has put some of the waste management in private hands. His project to extend subways into hinterlands, which very likely cannot produce ridership to support it, will entail a tax rise.
But that’s not why you know about him.
You know him as our crack smoking, gangster associating, drunk driving, lewd talking mayor. You may have heard about him first last May when Gawker reported that it had seen a video of him smoking crack. Our Toronto Star reported that it had also seen the video, which was for sale. The entire summer was taken up with speculation, along with jokes on late shows and denial by the mayor. Meanwhile one of the guys the mayor was pictured arm in arm with was shot and killed. A police investigation ensued. Houses were raided in Operation Traveller. Arrests were made. Gradually, these arrests moved into Mayor Ford’s circle and heavily redacted documents were released. Media outlets went to court and this week a judge released a much fuller version of the documents.
Mayor Ford, who stubbornly denied all allegations, has taken to public admissions that get worse and worse. Yes, he may have smoked crack once while in a drunken stupour. Yes, he may have been badly inebriated at a street festival and on St Patrick’s Day. Yes, he may have driven drunk once in a while. Yes, he has bought illegal drugs in the last two years. Today he may have reached a nadir -let us hope- when he used sexual explicit language while refuting a claim a woman had made. But wait, he was back out there at the media scrum apologizing for that, wifey by his side.
No, he will not resign. No, he will not take a leave of absence. He charged at Councillor Minan-Wong, yesterday during a council meeting, with evident intent, only to be stopped by brother, Doug Ford, also a councillor and, ordinarily, as rude as the mayor.
Oh, make it stop! Make it stop!
Apparently, Ford’s policies still have the support of 40% of voters, but candidates with the same platform are already lining up for the mayor’s race in 2014. Only 20% still support Rob Ford himself. They are probably my neighbours. They are decent, forgiving folk who are careful with their garbage.
I didn’t vote for him. I’m one of those “elites” in his mind. I dislike many things about him personally and our politics are different. Initially, I felt a good deal of schadenfruede and even laughed. I’m not concerned about Toronto being mocked and vilified on the world stage. It’s a big city, all grown up. It can take care of itself. And I love a Greek tragedy as much as anyone, but NOT IN SLOW MOTION.