Musings —11.19.2013 07:00 AM—
It’s the Toronto Maple Leafs Syndrome. Applies to sports as well as politics.
The Maple Leafs, as you may have heard, are a hockey team.
They have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967. That was the year the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Rolling Stone magazine started publishing and movie tickets were about the same as the minimum wage — just under a buck-50.
So, think about that: The Toronto Maple Leafs — one of the most profitable franchises in professional sports — won the Stanley Cup for the last time in 1967. Nearly a half century ago.
In Montreal (where I was born), in Calgary (where I grew up), and in Vancouver (where I took leave of my senses and made an ill-fated run for Parliament), this is what would happen if the Habs, the Flames or the Canucks were shut out for nearly 50 years — there would be riots.
There would be unrest. There would be revolution.
In Toronto? Nothing happens. No one cares.
Mild-mannered, mid-level executives in the financial services shrug. Well-appointed corporate executives check their Rolexes and yawn. (None of them are paying for the tickets anyway.) In the memorable phrasing of Stephen Harper (who loves the Leafs, by the by), they couldn’t care less.
That, in a roundabout way, explains why Torontonians don’t rise up, en masse, and surround City Hall. And then tie “Mayor” Rob Ford to one of the subway cars he professes to love so much, and drag him out to Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb that inflicted him on us in the first place.
In any other city in Canada, Rob Ford would be hanged, drawn and quartered (and, in his case, quartered and quartered again). He’d be tarred and feathered, and run out of town.
He would be reviled by children, and cursed by church-going grandmothers.
He would be — in any other city, where sanity still matters — dreaming about how Don Cherry used to refer to him as a friend.
Not in Toronto. No, sir.
In Toronto, to the amazement of those who are passing through (like me), people still pose to get their picture taken with Rob Ford.
At a protest to demand his ouster — which I attended, my first protest since my salad days — the biggest applause was reserved for a comedian, who told the good-humoured crowd that Rob Ford “is just like you.” No one seemed very angry, at all.
He may be a crackhead. He may drink and drive. He may give the finger to children and consort with drug dealers. He may push around people who are smaller than him and he may use gutter language to describe his wife. But Torontonians voted for him in droves in 2010 — and polls tell us that a significant number of city residents would do so again.
In these unique circumstances, residents of saner parts of the country — like Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver — might be moved to conclude the source of the Rob Ford problem isn’t, in fact, Rob Ford.
It’s the people who put him in office. It’s Torontonians themselves, afflicted as they are by Maple Leafs Syndrome.
In Toronto, you can put crap on the ice, year after year — you can put trailer park trash in charge of the city — and Torontonians will keep doing what they always do about things that are a joke, a farce, a source of bottomless shame.
Which is, mostly, nothing.