06.30.2014 08:46 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: Rob Ford, the destroyer

If you’re interested in politics, two things probably caught your attention yesterday.

(1) Important by-elections took place – two in Alberta, and two in Ontario.

(2) Rob Ford got out of rehab.

This column is being written in advance, but we’ll hazard a guess that the second political happening – the Rob Ford one – garnered about 100 times more interest. Sure, the by-elections were expected to conclude with some surprising upsets. Sure, they were highly relevant to the futures of Messrs. Trudeau, Harper and Mulcair. Sure.

But Rob Ford getting out of rehab would end up attracting far more interest. Why? Why, why, why?

Well, for starters, Ford has actually changed our political culture. He’s obliged us to confront several unpleasant facts about ourselves – about the cult of celebrity, about the irrelevance of scandal, about the fleeting nature of rules.

For example, it used to be that if an elected person got caught in a scandal – say, using hard drugs and consorting with drug dealers – they’d resign. They’d leave, and never come back. They broke the rules, and shame was upon them.

Rob Ford has changed all that. He has no shame. He doesn’t follow the rules. Instead of punishing him for that, we pose for selfies with him. In that way, we’re almost worse than him.

The Watergate scandal? Remember that? It was a real scandal, and it claimed a sitting President. It transformed journalism and American democracy, for a while.

If Rob Ford had been President, he would have just kept going. He would have laughed at impeachment and his critics, and he would have brazened on. And, based upon our recent collective experience, we would have let him.

Finally, it is apparent that Rob Ford isn’t actually a person anymore. He isn’t human. He’s more famous than the most famous Canadian – more famous, truly, than Terry Fox and Norman Bethune and Celine Dion and Chris Hadfield. We’ve made him that way. Us.

We’ve rendered him a porcine Kardashian, or a Reubenesque Paris Hilton. He’s accordingly much, much more than a garden-variety politician. He’s a CELEBRITY. And we cannot help but watch him, as he careens through our politics, a wrecking ball made flesh.

Rob Ford has taken several bits of conventional political wisdom, and stomped all over them. And many people – particularly those people who never thought there was anything noble or redeeming about high public office – think Rob Ford is still worth voting for. Because they already thought all politicians were liars anyway.

Full disclosure, as they say: I am volunteering for another candidate for Toronto’s mayor. I called her up on the same day I listened to my 11-year-old in the back seat, laughing with his friends about crack cocaine.

“Crack cocaine isn’t funny, guys,” I said, amazed that I would live long enough to ever have to say such a thing. “It can kill you.”

“But Dad,” my son said. “Then why is Rob Ford using it?”

And, at that moment, I figured I needed to do everything I could do to drive that bastard from office. Right then and there.

Like I said at the start: those by-elections – and I hope my friends Arnold, Joe and Kyle won in three of them, by the way – are far more important. But here we are, again, all talking about goddamn Rob Ford instead.

I need a drink.


  1. Arnold Murphy says:

    We reap what we sow, what Rob Ford has planted in society together with the fertile soil it was planted in, the fertilizer we have heaped upon it, God help us!

    • lorne says:

      Can Rob rehabilitate himself politically with his Ford Nation adherents and will his tearful apologies wash away his past sins? Olivia Chow was on CBC today where she addressed the media and congratulated Rob on his rehab efforts, but then she attacked him on his mayoral record. The perception will be she is kicking Rob when he is still down and recovering from mental surgery. This guy Ford is emotionally manipulating his supporters and it should get results because emotions trump reasoning in politics.

  2. Matt says:

    Arnold’s winning big, Joe’s losing big, and Kyle is losing too.

    Voter turnout is really bad to this point. as of 10:54pm EST:

    Macleod – 70% of polls reporting – Turnout is 11%

    Fort McMurry – 61% of polls reporting – Turnout is 9%

    Scarborough Agincourt – 84% of polls reporting – Turnout is 22%

    Trinity Spadina – 67% of polls reporting – Turnout is 17%

    • Bobby says:

      The story for me isn’t the Liberal wins in Toronto it’s the NDP slow motion free fall out of relevance.

      • lorne says:

        The NDP bearded leader Mulcair has little to attract Canadians to the NDP. It was either him or chrome-dome Nathan Cullen… both rather unappealing to the eye… just a couple of scary leftist weirdos.

        Now youthful mullet-haired Justin (Son of PET) Trudeau seems to have the Right Stuff to shoot down the NDP in Toronto and Quebec too. High profile local candidates will be flocking to the Liberals and hoping to ride in on Justin’s coattails. Just watch!

        • Bobby says:

          Agree. This may not bode well for Ms. Chow either. Seems to me that the voters do the exact opposite of what the pundits and polls predict.

        • Michael says:

          Mulcair’s problem is that he isn’t a scary leftist weirdo. As a consequence, traditional NDP supporters are leaving the party, but he hasn’t caught on with the general public.

          As for Trudeau’s (& Liberal) numbers in Quebec, he’s not going to shoot down too many Dippers in Quebec. If you look at the polls, outside of anglophone ridings the NDP look good to retain most of their seats.

          You are correct about local candidates trying to ride Justin’s coattails. There are people who for the last 3 years would not be caught dead around the LPC now sniffing around for a nomination.

  3. lorne says:

    Stunning defeat for Cressy + Mulcair as Vaughn + Trudeau win Trinity Spadina…!!!!

    If Liberals can attract strong candidates for October 2015 because of Trudeau’s leadership, they should be able to strip away ridings from the NDP… in Toronto and Quebec.

    That’s the winning formula = Trudeau + strong local candidates who can ride in on Justin’s coattails.

    • Matt says:

      Don’t be putting too much stock into by-election results that have less than half the turnout of a general election and there is no risk of changing the balance of power.

      The pundits and MSM are already crowing about what a “huge victory” it is for Trudeau’s leadership that a Liberal candidate in Fort McMurry has tripled the Liberals vote percentage there.

      Yeah, um, that’s based on at last check, a 10.72% voter turnout with 72% of the polls reporting.

    • Just askin' says:

      Vaughan has massive name recognition and he would have won with or without Trudeau.

      BTW, I think Bill Clinton was the prototype for RoFo…they both denied everything way past the point of no return, made phony apologies and begged the public for forgiveness. Based on Clinton’s post-scandal success, we may be looking at Ford More Years. 🙂

      • Bobby says:

        I don’t think you’re off the mark Just askin re: RoFo.

      • mary says:

        Wasn’t Clinton’s sex scandal (for which he offered apology) in 1998, two years after he last faced election? When exactly was he supposed to pay for his scandal electorally. And wasn’t he impeached for it, albeit not convicted and removed from office?

        • Just askin' says:

          So, you’re saying that Clinton isn’t extremely successful, and that his reputation now doesn’t eclipse the reputation he had when he was President? OK then.

          • Kaspar Juul says:

            No Just Askin that is what you are saying.

            Would you please learn to read the bloody comments properly. You are totally crap at putting words in others mouths.

          • Just askin' says:

            I stated “BTW, I think Bill Clinton was the prototype for RoFo…they both denied everything way past the point of no return, made phony apologies and begged the public for forgiveness. Based on Clinton’s post-scandal success, we may be looking at Ford More Years. :)”

            You stated “Wasn’t Clinton’s sex scandal (for which he offered apology) in 1998, two years after he last faced election? When exactly was he supposed to pay for his scandal electorally. And wasn’t he impeached for it, albeit not convicted and removed from office?”

            If you agree that Clinton is extremely successful and that his reputation has improved post-scandal, why did you make the above comment as a counterpoint to mine?

            PS – You are really not that bright.

          • Kaspar Juul says:

            Uh I didn’t state any of that. You definitely aren’t bright.

            Once again. Read what others have said instead of reading what you want to see.

      • JH says:

        Right on. The political culture regarding scandal changed when Bill Clinton cried and prayed. That one act enabled a whole generation of politicians to indulge themselves in every vice imaginable without paying a price.
        RE: Justin’s coattails and high profile candidates. Doesn’t that just mean the LPC once again becomes the party of the elites? And will other voices be heard? I thought the aim was to return the party to the regular folks?
        just askin’

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          Woo hoo Truthiness!

        • Bobby says:

          The standard of apology and forgiveness in Ontario rang out clearly with the provincial election.
          If voters forgave Wynne they’ll forgive Ford too.
          Right now he’s the biggest (literally and figuratively) underdog politician out there.
          I’m stunned by friends who can’t stand the guy, never voted for him but get all excited about the celebrity and possible comeback of the century?
          How many more people like this?

          • Just askin' says:

            I know many loud hypocrites who are in denial about their own substance abuse problems who really hate Rob Ford. Many.

            Maybe there are a lot of quiet people who see themselves in Rob Ford’s shoes, and who want to see him succeed despite his past failures. I certainly feel that way about the addicts I know and have known. When you care about someone, you don’t just give up on them because they’ve made mistakes.

          • Kaspar Juul says:

            Loud hypocrites, quiet people… Please

            You should try maybe living in the real world

          • Just askin' says:

            In the real world, people tend to be hardliners about everything, or they tend to turn the other cheek about everything. If you are treating Rob Ford differently than you would others or yourself in a similar situation, that makes you a hypocrite.

            Also, there are people who practically froth at the mouth about their hatred for Rob Ford. I don’t see why disliking someone would make someone turn into a complete tool, like that shirtless teacher who made a spectacle of himself yelling at Rob Ford on Canada Day.

          • Kaspar Juul says:

            “In the real world, people tend to be hardliners about everything, or they tend to turn the other cheek about everything. ”

            Based on what? That’s just bollocks.

        • patrick says:

          No the crying and pleading for forgiveness happened long before Clinton with the public displays by Swaggert, the PTL gnomes and others.
          As a side note I wish someone could explain to me the relevance of a blow job to a financial investigation? And why does that question get asked in the middle of a White Water investigation?

  4. Ron says:

    The only things that keep an addict sober are poverty, death, or growing up.

    On past performance, I don’t see Hizzoner taking any of those options.

    It’s the Indy 500. We have to watch.

  5. Michael Bluth says:

    How would Ford laugh at impeachment?

    Completely agree that the by-elections are more important than any mayoral election.

    Mulcair’s head must be about to explode. Would love to hear if the angry Tom persona came out wherever he was watching the results.

    Had a good laugh at the coverage out west. Conservatives “only” won Fort Mac by 14 points or so. Hope springs eternal!

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Re: Clinton impeachment. Remember how hated the prosecutor/persecutor Ken Starr was?

      I see that same feeling happening toward Thomas Mulcair.

      Could that be happening with Rob Ford?

  6. chris says:

    after 60 days I think it is the Toronto collective that needs more time to `rehab` to escape the addiction that is the Ford circus.

    60 days is nowhere near enough time to recover from the self indulgent shark frenzy of foolishness that we hate to watch but can`t look away from that is the `Ford Nation`.

    The Kardashian, Housewives of Atlanta, Duckhunter- `new reality` world that we live in makes us enablers yet also demands that we must also take time to step away frométake a deep breath and re-examine ourselves before we `carry on as usual`or determine a new path.

    I think the City of Toronto populace should be permitted to demand more time away than the mayor has `graciously provided`

    The last 60 days have been a breath of fresh air…or maybe a chance to even take a breath of air that did not have a hint of odour

    If our Mayor truly understood his rehab council..he should understand and be so kind as to provide us a small bit of an extra grace period..maybe an extra week…just to prove that he knows he has made serious mistakes.

    get somebody to ask him that one….

    ( it might backfire too-haha)

    please use this if you like and let me off as author please

  7. JH says:

    In kind of an odd way I think the Toronto Star and the rest of the media are actually helping Ford. Usually when I see a journalistic pile-on, I automatically think the person can’t be all bad if the press hate him so much – they being such a nasty group of bottom feeders themselves. That’s the reaction of many IMHOP.
    The way it is now Ford overshadows all the other candidates thanks to the lame-stream media.
    Wouldn’t it be better if he had to fight for headlines & coverage everyday like the others do?
    Strangely enough, the way he is treated by the press seems to reinforce his image as a man of the people – thus Ford Nation.
    Just sayin’

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      “That’s the reaction of many IMHOP.”

      Well maybe it’s the reaction of the 1500 regular viewers of The Source.

    • Bobby says:

      I think you may be on to something JH.
      The pile-on by media and other candidates might just be something that Toronto hates more than anything Ford has done.
      I heard someone say yesterday that when candidates came out in attack mode after Ford’s presser yesterday that it was a low blow and distasteful.
      Beats me?

  8. Mike says:

    Obama has done coke and smoked weed. Definitely has done some dodgy things with the IRS, Fast and Furious. The media have given him a get of out jail free card. Canada is just getting more American.


    • JHolst says:

      There’s a big difference between experimenting with drugs while in college and being an active user in your forties while also serving in office – bit of a false equivalency there.

      Also, only IRS and Fast and Furious? Where’s Benghazi in your list of Fox News scandals?!

  9. RonO'N says:

    The final tally shows a fantastic 30% turnout in the Toronto ridings compared to a measly 15-20% for the each of the two AB riding!!

    What this shows is that the Justin Charisma Effect brought out the vote in Toronto to decimate the NDP. That is what Mulcair must contend with in TO and PQ because Justin will scorch Mulcair’s Dipper ass in 2015 and replace him as the Leader of the OOP in the HOCs. Harper must also fear the Liberals taking back the 905 ridings in the GTA.

    What is even more ominous for the Cons and Dips is that Justin will attract high profile candidates for the 2015 election and you can bet they will be flocking to his side after the two TO wins. Meanwhile, the Media Party are crowing about their de facto leader Justin and his big wins. So predictable.

  10. Matt says:

    Final voter turnout numbers for the 4 by-elections last night.

    Macleod – 19.59%

    Fort McMurray-Athabasca – 15.19%

    Trinity Spadina – 31.61%

    Scarborough Agincourt – 29.36%

  11. Matt says:

    Maybe rehab did do Ford some good.

    For the first time yesterday he publicly acknowledge drug addiction. Before that he claimed only an “issue” with alcohol.

  12. debs says:

    In reading some of the comments the only thing that comes to mind. Rob Ford has paid shills, lol.
    How can anyone parse what he does as being equivalent to any mistakes Wynne makes is beyond comprehension. There are lies, there are politicians lies, there is dirty dealings and then with all of that there is Rob Ford standing in his own disgusting category of evil train wreck.
    No other political mistake, nor canadian politician comes close to his level of BS, and there is no way Toronto is voting that clown in again, not even if he buys votes.
    And even if Rehab works, he still is a horrible mess as a person, with soo many other negatives, that no amount of therapy will do them justice.
    Rob Ford is finished and truly that is better for him, as he can step down in the fall and get on with fixing his many many issues. But once out of the public eye, my guess is the gets back to the business of being a drug addict as if he wanted to help himself and his family he would have left last year. He has a few more rounds of hitting bottom yet, on a personal level.

    • Bobby says:

      It was a great discussion until you called WK’s guests here “shills” debs.

      There’s still nothing like an underdog and voters love them. Your comments prove that.

      I’m not a Ford fan at all, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that what voters and sympathetic people hate more than lies and mistakes it’s a pile on by the media and political “experts”.

      • debs says:

        I disagree Bobby, nothing like a pileon, Rob Ford invites the circus to town and welcomes the attn. No matter, the media lambastes everyone to an extent, its what sells. But Ford is in his own category and thanks to his stupidity and his “issues” he makes it worse for himself.
        and I didnt call WK guests shills I just commented that he must have them, as the serious cheerleading I see around has to be bought and paid for, lol, however that first opening line was more of a joke. At this point its fine for Ford to pay for PR, as long as its not taxpayers dollars:)

  13. Sean says:

    Ford is out of detox but has he changed? At the moment I have a bet with a friend as to when Ford falls off the wagon-please don’t assume I want him to fail in dealing with addiction.

    Has Ford changed? No! If he truly was a new man or the same man minus the demonizing, dehumanizing elements which come with addiction, Ford missed a glorious opportunity to prove that we had him all wrong-he could have showed up at the pride parade and showed support for other Canadians. But to my knowledge he was MIA.

  14. debs says:

    this is the best video of Challenging Rob Ford yet, bet the CBC interviewer of today doesnt take on this style of questioning, go Shirtless Jogger go, he nails both bob and doug, love it.

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