March 29, 2016

Rob Ford

Rob Ford

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They won”€™t have Rob Ford to stub their toes on anymore.

Last week, the ex”€“Toronto mayor, struck by a rare form of cancer, was checked into palliative care, the “€œcouples counseling”€ of medical science.

Being the only conservative they know, a friend was tapped to write Ford’s obit for a liberal local (but I repeat myself) website. Sympathetic yet frank, it’s a finely tuned portrait of the crack-smoking populist dynamo who divided the city and briefly became its unsanctioned international mascot”€”a sort of “€œWorld’s Largest Ball of String”€ but fashioned from arterial plaque, polyester, and sweat.

I”€™m confident that many Torontonians who cringed whenever their out-of-town friends asked about “€œthat Rob Ford guy”€ would (secretly) agree that

the “€œCrazy Town”€ era of Toronto politics was a necessary and even secretly thrilling antidote to the city’s reputation as a place of merely competent governance and historically certified dullness.

After Ford’s death, other media outlets who”€™d been rabidly hostile to the mayor also managed to cough up (mostly) snark-free eulogies.

So they can be calm and thoughtful after all. Where was this tone when the guy was alive? Ah, but now that Rob Ford is safely dead, these journalists figure the “€œdanger”€ has passed. They did their duty and can”€”nay, should”€”be magnanimous in victory, no?

“€œSo the media can be calm and thoughtful after all. Where was this tone when the guy was alive?”€

Yet still so clueless, too. Note this 18-minute award-bait video the National Post created to accessorize their Rob-Ford-is-dead coverage, except that in the interest of, you know, accuracy, “€œRemembering Rob Ford”€ really should have been titled “€œReporters Remember Laughing Off the Very Idea That Rob Ford Could Get Elected Mayor of Toronto.”€

A common theme in all this verbiage is their ill-concealed astonishment that “€œordinary Torontonians”€ stayed loyal to Rob Ford for so long.

But not a single postmortem cites one of the reasons for that loyalty, because that would reflect badly on the Canadian media itself:

Having failed to accurately gauge his popularity or prevent his election, said media began running story after anonymously sourced “€œgotcha”€ story about the new mayor. In tones once reserved for Watergate-level exposés, the public was somberly informed, literally every single hour of every single day, that, say, Rob Ford’s brother might have sold weed in high school 20 years ago. Then there was the nationally televised, taxpayer-funded harassment and the borderline libel.

So when that “€œcrack smoking”€ video finally emerged after months of journalistic teasing and taunting, was it really that baffling when “€œFord Nation,”€ as the mayor’s fans called themselves, mused that it might be fake too?

This attitude, in turn, confirmed the elites”€™ stereotype of Ford Nation as bumpkins of the first order, who clearly had to be rescued from the clutches of this homophobic racist who was “€œruining Toronto’s reputation”€ as a tolerant, law-abiding, multicultural paradise.

Except that the “€œmulticultural”€ voters who constituted Ford’s base”€”the Jamaicans and Chinese and Hindus”€”quietly agreed with him that the city’s annual Gay Pride celebrations, having metastasized from a Day to a Week to a Month without their approval, were kind of gross. And they fumed in sympathy when their champion was bullied into apologizing for stating the unimpeachable obvious: “€œIf you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn”€™t get AIDS probably.”€

Elite evidence of Ford’s “€œracism,”€ meanwhile, apparently includes his description of the black youth he coached in football as “€œminorities.”€ That word is an “€œobscene slur,”€ according to “€œCanadian journalist Jordan Michael Smith,”€ whoever he is, writing for the BBC, but in fact it is, believe it or not, statistically accurate. Actual Canadian journalist David Menzies, on the other hand, who covered Ford on the ground back when Ford was still a city councillor, recalls the time he “€œdonated $40,000 of his own money to resurrect [one high school’s] dormant football program, wanting to give the students, many fatherless, something to aspire to. A few moms told me their sons would either be in jail or dead if not for Rob.”€

(Ezra Levant called Ford “€œToronto’s first black mayor,”€ in part to tweak the city’s pallid ruling class and their zombielike flunkies, who deeply resent “€œthe ethnics”€™”€ profound affection for Ford”€”whose annual free picnics were the only organically diverse grassroots events I”€™ve ever attended during my almost 30 years living in the storied 416 “€œmosaic.”€)


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