01.04.2014 06:42 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: the most famous Canadian of our lifetimes

NEW YORK — The first thing you notice about this city’s new mayor is that he is pretty tall — six-foot-five, according to official reports.

Oh, and he doesn’t smoke crack. Or drink while driving. Or get identified as an alleged heroin user in police documents. Or use gutter language to describe his wife. Or show up to work mid-afternoon, or not at all.

No, Bill de Blasio is on time, sober as a judge, and clearly in love with his wife (he says so, just after getting sworn in). He is posing for photographs with hundreds of New Yorkers who have waited in line for three hours, in sub-zero temperatures, to meet New York City’s just-inaugurated 109th mayor. Among them, two bemused Canadians.

Shaking his hand, I indicate the army of lobbyists, politicos and job-seekers queued up to meet him.
“We’re Canadians,” I tell de Blasio. “We’re the only people here who don’t want something from you!”

De Blasio and his staff laugh at that one. Not missing a beat, de Blasio says: “Canadians? From Ontario?” We nod.

“I love Ontario! What a beautiful place!” de Blasio booms, sounding like he means it. Then, he pauses.

“I won’t be talking about your mayor,” he says, and his staff burst into peals of laughter. We exchange a few more words, and then slink away, our humiliation complete. A New York Times reporter follows us, to ask questions about Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mayor … well, you know.

Be under no illusion, Canada: Rob Ford is now the most famous Canadian of all time. And you, like us, will be hearing about Mayor Crackhead — and mocked because of him — for many, many years to come.

More than Terry Fox. More than Celine Dion. More than William Shatner. More than just about any Canadian you care to mention — last year, this year, and in years to come. Rob Ford is the Canadian who non-Canadians know best.

Many, of course, are appalled by the tales of crack and the videotapes in which Ford talks about “killing” someone, or denigrates gays and minorities.
But, mostly, they think it is screamingly funny that (a) he exists and that (b) Canadians — these polite, taciturn, apologetic people of the North — elected such a schmuck in the first place. And that we are seemingly incapable of removing Ford from office. Or, worse, indifferent to him.

People from other places are used to public servants who, you know, serve the public. Not serial liars who are off doing hard drugs with gang-bangers when they are supposed to be at work.

Take de Blasio, for example. His entire adult life has been dedicated to public service, and to a determination to erase America’s yawning racial and income divide.

He achieved high office by pledging to bring people together. And by promising to make New York one city, not two — one increasingly rich, one increasingly poor.

Rob Ford, the millionaire’s son who drives a monster car that exceeds most Canadians’ annual income, could not be more unlike Bill de Blasio (or Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi, or Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson). He is lazy, he is dishonest, he is an embarrassment. He divides, he doesn’t unite.

Toronto is New York run by the Swiss, the actor Peter Ustinov once famously said. If that is so, how can Toronto voters vote for Rob Ford — and New Yorkers elect Bill de Blasio?

It is an enduring mystery. Because he is a populist, some say. Because he tapped into suburban anger, others say. Because he ran a campaign that had one simple message, and not a hundred.

One thing, however, isn’t a mystery at all: Rob Ford is the most (in)famous Canadian ever.

And you will be hearing about him, and feeling embarrassed about him, for the rest of your natural life.


  1. Ian Howard says:

    Nobody talks about Warren Harding.

    Find someone who cares whether Hugo Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan

    Richard Nixon made Ford look like a model citizen.

    Ronald Regan forgot about Iran contra and so did everybody else and Rob Ford has yet to text a picture of his weiner.

    We have much to be proud of if you insist on fixating on Rob Ford that is your business.

  2. Arnold Murphy says:

    Its almost fascinating to see how entitlement really works, people shoot Justin Trudeau for being entitled, for being circumspect, thinking he just needs to step into his fathers shoes. But in Justin Trudeau’s defence, he’s worked for everything he has, the door might have been opened a crack but it also had people standing behind it wanting it closed and kept closed. By comparison, Rob Ford as you mention him being a millionaire’s son, also a politicians son, also the millionaire became a millionaire in the printing business and I would not be surprised if a lot of political campaigns and government work contributed to the millions. Its not a contrived thought to come to the conclusion that the Ford brothers do not represent the middle class or the poor, in fact they represent the country club crowd and shed a few pounds you would find the infamous blond haired bad guy of Karate Kid fame, the spoiled rich kid. And the bullying, tough guy type, you know the stereotypical captain of the football team. There is nothing noble or admirable in these men, few qualities can they claim, I mean once you could maybe have gotten away with straight shooter or common man, but not with the revelations we now know to be true. This is a man who does not deserve his position, has not earned it and continues to disgrace himself and it, he is without shame or remorse, and has the audacity to demand respect he has again not earned. But the crowd of people he has supporting him don’t care, because he is only carrying their banner and their message, it is better for them in fact if he is totally and utterly dependent upon them and the votes they carry for him. If he had redeeming qualities, had he resigned and sought rehabilitation responded by doing what was right for himself and everyone around him maybe he might actually have support outside that circle. But no he is dependent upon a small but vocal group which vote, they want to be able to know that he will not suddenly start thinking for himself or representing the people of Toronto they want him desperate and he is. The real story behind the story of the Fords is that of these people who are his base, the ones who control that base and the ones who get his vote out. If you want to know who these people are, just figure out what Preston Manning found out and has successfully copied in Calgary. The story is their agenda, why is the question, why is Rob Ford defying all logical, ethical and intelligent advice at every turn? If the city does not want him, who does?

  3. Jnap says:

    I appreciate this article a lot, because I am still grappling with why RF was chosen by several news outlets as “newsmaker of the year”. His misdeeds should be classified as lurid police bulletin fodder, not as news. Also many Canadians are wondering why he was voted Mayor, unless there were too many other candidates with indistinguishably complex platforms. Ford is very clear about his message.. be as self-indulgent as you want, let it all hang out, and pay as few taxes as you can. This is a very attractive platform for some people who do that anyway and don’t care about their community as a whole. it is caveman thinking, where the biggest challenge was getting through the day, and never mind tomorrow.
    Secretly I envy Rob Ford.
    But I am very glad he was not my father.

    • e.a.f. says:

      ‘ford is news maker of the year because that is what he is. being newsmaker of the year does not have a qualifier on it, that you have to be “good”, its just news maker. nobody make news in Canada like he did and not just in Canada. He made it all over the world. There are few countries in the world who haven’t heard about him. Of course it will die down. it could die down if they arrested harper or one of his and got sent to jail. Rob Ford,maybe crack smoking, foul mouthed, not show up to work on time, hangs out with gangsters, but you know when it comes right down to it, he may be an embarrassment to some, but Toronto still works. here in B.C. we have a premier who has managed to maintain the countries record for child poverty. Who do I like less, the B.C. premier. Ford is A CLOWN. Clark, in B.C. is a horrible creature because she and her government have continued to push children in to poverty with no food programs in the schools. One if five live in poverty. So what is horrible is all relative. You can get over the relative who is drunken idiot, its a lot harder to get over the relative who hurts people deliberately.

  4. Sean says:

    In about two years, no one is going to be too excited about this stuff. Sort of like this guy:


  5. Karla Babe says:

    can we please be clear about something.. there are some smedgeheads that will read this and think ALL Canadians had something to do with the election of the Robert Ford Disaster.. it was only folk in the Greater Toronto Area people.. far far away from the shores of Beautiful British Columbia…

    • Reality.Bites says:

      No, it was only the folks in Toronto. The GTA is Toronto and OTHER cities, such as Mississauga and Brampton, that have their own mayors, councils, school boards, transit systems, police forces, etc.

      And you folks elected Stockwell Day, a man who never needed drugs to demonstrate he was an idiot and a bigot.

  6. Iris Mclean says:

    Even Lord Tubby expressed disappointment regarding Crackhead’s honesty in the days following his “discussion” on Vision TV or what ever it’s called. Are the cops still investigating Ford? Is Ford still refusing to talk to the cops? Is Ford out of the woods re possible charges?

  7. Richard Besserer says:

    Related: Sorry about the cock-up with the seating arrangements. I don’t blame you for being furious.


    No serious misquotations, I hope?

    (Take heart. After October 2014 you won’t hear another word about Rob Ford.)

    (Also—“newly-engaged?” I guess the “Big News Delayed” is out of the bag!)

  8. rww says:

    “Toronto is New York run by the Swiss, the actor Peter Ustinov once famously said. If that is so, how can Toronto voters vote for Rob Ford — and New Yorkers elect Bill de Blasio?”

    Ustinov was talking about the real Toronto not the Toronto created by Mike Harris to get right a right winger elected mayor.

  9. steve says:

    That puts and explanation mark on softball Bob Fife on QP this morning. No comment that Flarharty is going to be the Con spokesman because Harper is to afraid to appear. Then after grilling Mclair and Trudeau, all softballs for Flarhaty, why did he not ask him about Rob Ford. Oh maybe CTV stands for Conservative Television Network.

    I would also like someone to mention the Elephant in the room every time Jason Kenny is mentioned as the next PM.

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