09.11.2014 09:51 AM

What will (or could) happen next in Toronto politics

Rob Ford – who, by the by, was the only mayoralty candidate to contact me during my recent run-in with the underside of a bus – is facing a huge health challenge.  You know that.

What you don’t know, perhaps, is that I had two epiphanies last night.  Epiphany One, I was disgusted and appalled by the frankly evil things being said about Rob Ford’s predicament on Twitter.  I said so, and I wasn’t alone.  I firmly believe, this morning, that some of the things being said by self-described “progressives” will propel many, many sympathetic/empathetic voters into supporting Rob Ford again.  It was that bad.

Epiphany Two – and I said this to myself, as I lay there sleepless and as the rest of you slept like babies – was the following: “Has something like this happened before?”

Well, yes, of course.  It has.  And it had a dramatic and extraordinary effect in both cases, one named Layton (who was being dismissed as a  glib used car salesman until he got sick), and one named Bouchard (who was being reviled as a Benedict Arnold-nation-destroyer until he got sick).

Listen to my friends McLoughlin, Gauthier and Cobb, from a 2011 Citizen story:

“…the pundits all underestimated the Tao of Jack and his Walking Stick — the crutch that has become a Churchillian-like symbol brandished with increased frequency in Layton’s public battles against his political enemies.

“It looked like the beginning of the end of his political career,” said Ottawa communications specialist Barry McLoughlin. “We saw two things happen to him back to back, that showed his humanity. We saw him on our screens looking gaunt, older, frail and very vulnerable.”

Then, adds McLoughlin, Layton suddenly connected with Canadians in a deeper way.

“He struck an emotional chord just by the way he faced up to his setbacks and went about his work. He appeared in the House of Commons after his hip surgery and showed he was a fighter. People developed an emotional relationship with him that wasn’t there before.”

Something similar happened between Quebecers and Lucien Bouchard when the former Bloc Quebecois leader contracted flesh-eating disease in 1994, added McLoughlin.

“It’s not about the cane,” he said, “but about the humanity it shows.”

Bernard Gauthier, a communications and audience research specialist at Delta Media in Ottawa says the walking stick has become a defining element for Layton.

“It’s become part of the Jack Layton brand, along with his white moustache,” said Gauthier. “I said at the beginning of the campaign that the walking stick will go one of two ways for Jack Layton: it will hinder him because it could suggest to people that he is not at the peak of health or it will engage people.

“It’s made him more endearing and empathetic.”

At this point, it will be very difficult for anyone to call Rob Ford names anymore, as John Tory has been doing.  That’s one thing.

This is the other: all that Rob Ford need do is show up – and look vulnerable and human and brave, as Layton and Bouchard did – and something like this will happen:

He will win.



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    Ted Heighington says:

    Cancer is insidious and evil, and I too lost my father to it just recently. You can’t plan cancer, but you can plan how you react to it and how you communicate it.

    The Fords, or anyone else, do not deserve illness or pain of any kind, anytime. But with decades of crying wolf and deceit, they do deserve the mockery and mistrust in the way they lie, misrepresent, dramatize, over-stage and mis-handle Rob’s misfortunes.

    Using the President of a hospital, who just received a big Ford donation cheque, and who personally lead an anti-Tory leadership rally back in London a few years ago, was totally suspect, overkill and shamelessly inappropriate.

    Rob’s doctor and previous oncology advisor would have been more credible, particularly in light of this is not a new development, and this Friday is a tipping point day for candidate registrations.

    I genuinely hope Rob gets better. He is stronger willed than any of us.

    I also hope that his brother’s see-through phony staging antics also get better….

    By the way Warren, the Jack & The Cane analogy is absolutely spot on. I agree we will see a surge in Ford polling cores starting this weekend.

    Win? Not likely at this juncture, but with a much bigger finish, yes, probably. Tory and Chow might be feeling a cold sweat coming on…

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      Matt says:

      My opinion – They HAD to hastily call that news conference last night.

      Look at it this way.

      Consider the last year. Rob misses/cancels a couple public appearances or another patient sees him in the hospital, every media outlet would put their wild speculation machines into overdrive – is he drinking again? is he back using drugs?

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    Arnold Murphy says:

    Totally agree, kicking a man when he is down, wishing him ill and even death is pathetic and a sign of a sociopath. Winning at all costs, devouring your opponent at every turn, no quarter asked or none given, the ends justify the means type people. Rob Ford is not perfect he has said this many times, I believe him. Of course those opposed to him should consider fighting him on his record, his ideas and not make this a personality contest. Because there are a few things drunks and addicts are good at, but among them being gregarious and sociable and making friends is a survival mechanism that is built in. Rob Ford for all his faults, is a likable guy, he can be fun and people like fun people. When that fun, likable guy gets sympathy its a force to be reckoned with, and the whiplash his opponents will feel is palpable already. I hope Olivia Chow stays above the fray, acknowledges that Rob is potentially very sick and that at this time prayers are in order not further attacks or evil wishes. If those who challenge Rob sink to such levels, it’s just a sign that the devil you know might be a better choice, after all anyone that would curse a man who is sick isn’t going to offer a hand to anyone in need or realistically show any empathy to any situation that needs it, they are the lowest common denominator people and they just don’t get being Human. Showing kindness to our opponents, prepares them to be our friends and shows them acceptance as well as breaking down barriers or obstacles to allow friendly relations. By being mean, those who have been have only shown one thing about their character that being they are mean spirited and capable of evil if it suits their purposes which is more than reason enough to reject them as public servants.

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    Jesse Edwards says:

    Yeah, but Bouchard and Layton were accomplished, intelligent, and not generally viewed as despicable by their foes. Bit different, I’d say. Also, Layton wasn’t doing drugs & slamming KFC while and was speaking a message of unity and hope, which made his passing far more tragic than any scenario involving Ford.

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      Hugh Grant says:

      Jesse, you recall both Bouchard and Layton with rose tinted spectacles. Bouchard was the guy who rose from obscurity on Mulroney’s coat tails, only to stab Mulroney in the back. Layton was indeed always hail and well met, but he had his scandals too. In fact your description of these two men is a clear indicator of your politics.

      Warren, your piece is spot on. It was mystifying that both Tory and Chow failed to send expressions of support to Ford as soon as the news came out, immediately. Delay implied political consideration regarding what was a human issue … which should have received an automatic response.

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        doconnor says:

        Rob Ford often defends himself by saying “Nobody’s perfect,” but he doesn’t seem to realize that his imperfections are of a different order of magnitude compared to most people’s.

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      TrueNorthist says:

      But Warren is right. By ragging on the guy we run a great risk of benefiting him, which would be genuinely tragic. I’m going to do my best to go back to ignoring the fact that Rob Ford exists.

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    Graeme McEachern says:

    Hi Warren. You don’t know me, my name is Graeme, and I work for the Mayor. I was so disgusted by people on twitter last night that I shut down my account before I said things to them that I would regret. I found your tweets classy last night, and would like to thank you. Politics can be nasty at times and you have shown yourself to be a class act through this terribly difficult time. Your humanity and empathy was clear, and it emphasized just how vicious and vile some others can be. Good luck going forward, and thank you for calling people out for their mean spirited actions.

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      davidray says:


      You’re appeal to “the better angels of our nature” is disingenuous. I’ll leave it to the author of those words to explain.

      to paraphrase

      “The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to his hands and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor.
      While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.
      If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.
      You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

      A Lincoln

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        davidray says:

        Looks like I spilled a double double in your laps. Sorry. My bad.

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    que sera sera says:

    Oddly fascinating how loudmouth schmucks who appear to consistently deny others the normal harbingers of humanity (ie: basic decency, common sense, kindness, & other civil rather than criminal behaviors) suddenly expect to be sheltered by those gentle considerations at the first sign of travail in their own lives. Oh the pain…..the pain…….

    Neither Bouchard nor Layton were loudmouth schmucks. And their crutches were medical devices, not crack cocaine, alcohol, co-dependent brothers, convenient minorities, or 24/7/365 media whoring including while in “treatment”.

    Better be nice to poor Robbie or the sympathy vote will re-elect him, so if he lives long enough in his gloriously unrepentant public life of debauchery, criminal excess, pathological dishonesty, & gratuitous & petty cruelties, he can renew his ongoing war with his “admiring public”. Stockholm Syndrome appears to be hard at work in Toronto.

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    King Prick says:

    Spoiler Alert: You and everyone you love is going to die.

    Look, let’s be real. This stuff happens. My grandmother died of cancer. In my childhood bedroom, in fact. We brought her home to die. It was awful. Worse still, as a kid in grade six, the night before she passed, I looked at my dad and asked, “When’s she going to get better? I just want my room back.” She passed the very next morning before I got up. Before I could say good-bye. To this day, and I’m 46 now, I believe she somehow heard me. That’s my story, now in fairness, I’d like to deal with the realities.

    Rob Ford and his brother Doug, have a real penchant for embellishing things and when I use that term, I use it loosely. They are proven liars. The first thing I did upon hearing of this on the radio was get home to see if Ford had had any other incidents with tumours. Sure enough, he had. Now, rather than go on the attack with a bunch of “he deserves it” bullshit, let’s try this instead…

    Taking the Ford family and their love for the lie, is it possible that Rob Ford knew he had a tumour before going into the hospital? Yes.
    Is it probable that he new about it and withheld the info from the public? Yes.
    Is it possible that he might use this to his advantage in order to gain re-election? Yes.
    Is it probable? Yes.
    Have we seen that same somber look on Doug Ford’s face when he’s lied before? Yes.
    Is it possible that Doug Ford, as campaign manager, is making this out to be more than it is? Yes.
    Is it probable? Yes.

    Nobody wants to see any person succumb to an illness, but Ford has a history of tumours. He’s had no trouble living a life of excess. He has a history of not taking care of himself, his family or this city. He’s lied time and again and his brother has aided him in doing so. So let’s set aside the indignation that a moronic few have pulled from us with their cruel jokes, please. Instead, let’s deal with something that I believe to be far more real and important. When Peter cried wolf too many times, people stopped listening. To Rob and Doug Ford I’ve stopped listening. I have no interest, nor care, nor concern for The Ford’s at all. Not my family. Not my business. So, leave the guy alone and instead of attacking him, let’s be smart about it. Is it possible Rob Ford has a tumour? Yes. Is it probable that he’ll die from it? No.

    Is it possible I disliked him before this tumour? Yes.
    Is it probable? Yes.
    Is it possible that I’ll feel differently about him after this? Yes.
    Is it probable? No.
    Is it possible that I’ll stop calling him names and hurling insults, potato chips, beer bottles and baseballs at the TV every time he appears? Yes.
    Is it probable? No.

    Mr. Kinsella with all due respect, I think it’s only fair that the haters be allowed to hate. I wrote a blurb here awhile ago about why I think social media is evil and useless and this is the reason I’m no longer on it. You’re a smart man. You’re a lawyer, even. Here’s a hard truth: 99% of all people on social media are like Rob Ford. Loud, obnoxious, at times cruel, mean spirited and vindictive. That my friend, is what social media is for. Sad, isn’t it?

    I hated (yes hated) Rob Ford before and I’ll hate him after. The sad truth though, may be that people are pointing and laughing because once again, this could be yet another preventable occurrence for Rob Ford. Just like his political career. Had he listened to those around him, maybe he wouldn’t be finc=ding himself in all of these horrible predicaments. Fact is: This one of those, “I hate to tell you but I told you so” moments. People are going to take liberties.

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      debs says:

      well said!
      as for Social media, and how its used, well it has extreme moments, but life and death will go on.
      I personally think Rob Ford is going to kill himself with his politicking. The guy needs to give it up and get healthy, no other path will end well for him.

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      Matt says:

      Ok, so going by that logic, one could say Layton knew his cancer was terminal and knew he had one shot left so he brought down the Conservatives in an attempt to die as Prime Minister either by winning the election or forming the coalition part 2.

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      doconnor says:

      Hiding his tumour and waiting to reveal it for maximum political advantage would require intelligence and foresight.

      Refusing to get an abdominal pain looked at until it is unbearable would require stubbornness and foolishness.

      Given this is Rob Ford, which is more probable?

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        King Prick says:

        ” Matt: Touche!

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          Just Askin' says:

          Most of us have all lost at least one person to cancer, many of us a father or grandfather who didn’t get it checked out until it was too late. I really think it’s myopic to make that a Rob Ford thing, when in fact, many men avoid going to the doctor and let small health problems fester. Instead of making it about Rob Ford, how about encouraging the men you care about to get their annual physical and to tell their doctor what’s bothering them?

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    Ron says:

    Ford has often characterized himself as the “victim”. Nobody really bought into that.

    Now, he is a victim and a victim of a horrible illness. Civilized people are sympathetic and rightly so.

    But sympathetic to his health issue, not his politics.

    Speaking of politics, I heard via the media that maybe Doug could take his place on the ballot. Is this
    possible ?

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      Matt says:

      “taking his place” is exactly what would happen.

      The deadline to register to A) Rum for mayor or 2) Withdraw from the mayors race and have your name NOT appear on the ballot is this Friday @ 2:00PM.

      IF Rob were to get a diagnosis of cancer for example before Friday @ 2:00PM , he could withdraw his name from the race, and Doug could register to run.

      So, he’s not technically taking Rob’s place as Rob would have withdrawn.

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        TrueNorthist says:

        If that were to happen it would mean the (slightly) better of the two would be running for mayor, but at this point I don’t think Doug would have enough time to distance himself — not that he would. Such a switch would actually be the smart play in many ways, but I just cannot see Rob letting go, even if he has cancer. He will either lose the election, sick or not, or, God forbid, win and have to be taken out the door in a (large) pine box.

        I have found some consolation in the fact that even were he to win he will be a weak mayor with a council that will not work with him, so he will be powerless. But I am not convinced that he can win, even with a big wave of sympathy. Tory is going to be the next mayor of Toronto.

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          Matt says:

          Doug doesn’t connect with people the way Rob does. While I’m sure he would like to take a run at the Mayor’s chair, if I had to bet money on it, Rob’s name stays on the ballot.

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            Ron says:

            Surprise, surprise !

            (Or not)

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    chris says:

    bowel and polyps caught early have a 75% survival rate
    no offense but so low in the polls needs a “story”..my apnea story keeps me employed when I’m late too

    Chow sunk like a stone when she lost you warren..she can barely put together a full sentence

    go back to her out of obligation to us libs…Tory and Rob are inches away from destroying this city

    somebody has to get Rob to say he loves Tory before we see a real split or else we are doomed to Tory/Rogers style

    Tory was Rogers cable -that’s worse than Ford

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      Matt says:

      Olivia might actually benifit from a Rob Ford withdrawl.

      Something like 80% of Ford supporters say they have no second choice.

      That other 20%? Sure some may migrate to Tory, BUT I suspect more don’t like Tory and COULD vote for Ms. Chow to try and prevent a Tory win.

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    Matt says:

    Just saw a replay of a media briefing from earlier tonight:

    Ford was moved to Mount Sinai today.

    He has had the biopsy, a CT scan, and a chest CT since arriving there. Biopsy results to take about a week.

    Tomorrow he will have more tests including an MRI and a “multi-disiplinary” team of doctors will meet to go over the tests.

    The doctor giving the briefing wouldn’t discuss the size of the tumor, or it’s exact location, or if the colon or what other organs may be involved.

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    BrianK says:

    No way. Who among the existing Tory and Chow supporters is going to migrate to Ford? Neither Layton or Bouchard were incumbents. Ford has been a terrible mayor, and cancer doesn’t change that. As a human being I wish him the best for a successful recovery, but no “overcoming adversity” narrative is going to make me forget the last 4 years of lies, bullying and municipal gridlock. To expect that other voters feel different is, frankly, to have a pretty low opinion of voters.

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      Just Askin' says:

      I guess you’d prefer fetid mounds of garbage all over town like we got from David Miller.

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