It’s Not About Ford: It’s About How A Hateful Ford Nation Poisons Toronto

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THERE’S A DISTINCT ethical calculus that applies to addiction. Here’s an example: mayor Ford’s indiscretions over the years – the bad choices of personal friends and associates, the bursts of erratic behaviour, the denials that there’s a problem – are “the drugs talking.” He’s not completely in control of himself. The drugs and alcohol are, and his actions should therefore be seen as at least in part the symptoms of an illness, or a compulsion, that keeps him in its grip. He’s an addict, and he needs help, and it’s a good thing he’s now seeking it.

That’s one way of framing the news of the past twenty-four hours, and it’s also the most compassionate and generous. Maybe that’s why Ford Nation will have none if it. Predictably, critics of the mayor, and especially critics in the media, are once again being described as mean-spirited thugs by Ford’s supporters. What the mayor does in his spare time is his business, they say. There’s no problem here, except that the media keep beating up a great leader.

Now that Mr. Ford has committed himself to rehabilitation, I hope and expect that the tone of the conversation will change, and that the mayor will be left alone as long as he’s on his leave of absence, busy at the work of getting well. To this point, however, the public behaviour of this elected official has been fair game. The media were doing their job. As for the political circus of this city, in my view it’s no longer about the Ford brothers, it’s about Ford Nation – and it has been for a while.

In politics there are thresholds and milestones that can never be uncrossed and unpassed, and disgorged closets whose contents can never be re-hidden. Some events coarsen the public in a way that is enduring, if not permanent. Tens of thousands of people in this city have declared and re-affirmed, again and again, their approval of a mayor whose conflicts of interest, close associations with drug dealers and abusers of women, unethical behaviour, and serial public rages are of no concern. Mayor Ford has saved them some money, and that’s all they care about.

There’s more to Ford Nation however than love of money. These folks are defined by the things that they hate: the media and the “elites.” Elite is their politically expedient code for the gays and the freaks and anyone else who differs. They hate, hate, hate these people, and that’s why a principled, cost-cutting conservative won’t do for Ford Nation, now that they’ve tasted and got hooked on the surplus junk rage of their beloved Fords. Addiction is a problem in Toronto politics, all right.

I’m convinced that Ford’s base simply hates Toronto. Ford Nation will once again bring out this hate vote in October, and they’ll deliver it to Rob Ford if given the chance. But the Fords won’t be around forever, and that’s why this is no longer about them. For me the legacy of this past year is that I’ll never see this city the same way again. Ford Nation has left an indelible mark, and while I still love Toronto, I’ve lost all confidence in its politics.

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5 responses to “It’s Not About Ford: It’s About How A Hateful Ford Nation Poisons Toronto

  1. Wow, persecution complex or what. I point out that the people who don”t want Ford also get up in the morning and support their families, and that they’ve had enough of their drunken stupor criminal associating mayor, and it gets twisted into a holocaust against democracy and Ford voters. I didn’t say destroy, I said repudiate. Huge difference. I’m going to support someone else in October – that’s what I mean by repudiate. By the way, Ford has not even saved me a dime. All my local bills and city expenses have been going up. All of them! He’s lying to you. He’s a rich privileged man pretending to be an ordinary hard working guy, sometimes a Jamaican guy. He’s done so many things at work on office time that would have got you and me disciplined and then fired years ago. I don’t like any politicians much, but I’ll be especially happy to see this one go. He needs professional help. I wish him well, but I don’t want him for mayor.

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  2. i think one of us missed the point. What is this “special consideration” you speak of Wayne? The only thing Ford nation people expect is that their VOTE be considered special, and honored… Is that not the way a free society is suppose to work?… Millions of dollars were spent on destroying a single man, and now i look forward to see how you try to destroy all of Ford nation….

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  3. I seem to be composing a Dear John (or john) letter here, but anyways, thank-you for taking the time to write.

    I don’t see why Ford supporters should get special consideration because they wake up in the morning and go to work and come home and relax. But, okay, bravo to you for being a typical adult. I did for a time live in Quebec, as it happens, but my family has lived in this area for centuries. So please know I’ll be staying right here, brother, relishing the delicious work of repudiating people just like you.
    Cheers,
    -W.

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  4. Ford nation is made up of REAL people, who wake up each morning, go to work and come home and relax until they do it all over again the next morning…. What they hate is the amount of money spent, by the “elite” you speak of, to destroy a MAN who had the balls to cut taxes and eliminate wasteful spending by said “elite”… The 1% may have the all the money, but they will never be able to destroy Ford Nation… They can, should and will vote Rob Ford back in as Mayor… then what will you do ? Please move to quebec spend your money on separation,… then live a peaceful life and leave us alone… We enjoy earning our own money…

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  5. Undeniably true. Ineffably sad. A framing I haven’t seen before. And, I fear, a legacy we have to be far more clear-eyed about.

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