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When Rob Ford was elected Toronto’s mayor last year, mostly it was by accident: Two reasonable, qualified candidates split the moderate vote, allowing the hard-right Ford to get elected.

Ford is loud, uncouth and abusive. A conservative ideologue who denies climate science, he favors cars over public transit and rails against government while happily accepting Ottawa’s cash for his pet projects. Ford wants to privatize city services, picks nasty fights with the media when it reports on him critically, and squabbles incessantly with city council. A bit homophobic, he tried cancelling the city’s long-standing support of Pride Week that brings in huge numbers of tourists spending lots of money, and he’s fat.

Meet Canada’s Chris Christie.

Anti-Green

Avowedly anti-green, Rob Ford wanted to abolish the city-mandated five cent charge for plastic grocery bags and believes cars are Toronto’s future.

One of his first acts was to cancel an auto tax, implemented to discourage city driving. Then, he removed many bike lanes, insisting streets are for cars and spending some $300,000 the city didn’t have to do it.

Hard on the heels of his “screw bicycles” policy, Ford scrapped a mass transit plan that his predecessor developed after years of consulting with businesses, unions, residents and civic groups. The plan called for a network of LRT lines to supplement existing tram and bus routes, and feed five subway lines. The city got buy-in from the provincial and federal governments, which agreed to fund most of the project.

But Ford didn’t want LRT, preferring a relatively short extension of a subway line that would have cost about the same as the massive “Transit City” project. While LRT would serve some 80,000 new riders every day, the subway would carry only about 15,000 – almost all living in an area that voted heavily for Ford.

Not even his most-ardent city council supporters could overlook the widespread public ridicule of his harebrained idea, voting the mayor down flat. Transit City was reinstated.
Intimidation

Like Gov. Christie, Ford defaults to bullying when cornered.

The Toronto Star ran a highly-critical series about the mayor and his tight-knit circle of cronies that includes Ford’s brother, a city councilor. It included documentation of campaign spending irregularities and insider contracts for city projects. Ford reacted by cutting the Star off from news: The paper’s city hall reporters stopped receiving alerts telling when Ford would appear at events, hold news conferences, and issue statements or propose new ordinances.

With the exception of The Toronto Sun – think New York Post but owned by an anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic Quebec separatist from Montreal that would support Ford if he mooned a pre-school – the media went ballistic.

The mayor’s office backed down.

But, a few weeks later, Ford chased a different Star reporter through his neighborhood because the mayor thought the journalist was "spying" on him. I can’t make this stuff up.

Humorless

It’s not just reporters that Ford attacks: He went after an established, highly popular, network satire show, “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.”

During its long run, the program has targeted everyone from prime ministers and provincial premieres to activists and causes on the left and right. Often, it relies on “ambush” interviews with the mighty, who go along with the gag good-naturedly. Like SNL, its actors create characters to mock targets. One regular is Marg Delahunty, played by a wonderful comic actor named Mary Walsh. Marg is an outrageous doyen who manages to be naïve and incredulous at the same time.

One morning, Marg – in full costume and trailed by a five-person camera crew – approached Ford as he left his home. Ford swore at her and ran into his house, frantically calling 911. When police didn’t appear instantly, he phoned again and ranted at the hapless operator, calling her borderline racist and misogynist names and dropping F-bomb’s repeatedly.

Ford denied being abusive until the 911 tape was leaked. So then he insisted she didn’t know who Marge was – although she’s been on TV every week for years – and feared he was going to be attacked, ignoring that Marge was in her garish outfit, is a foot shorter and a half-ton lighter than Ford, and was with a CBC crew. When that barrier was breached, Ford’s last line of defense was that he feared for his kid’s safety – even though they were inside the house and Marge made no attempt to enter.

He never apologized, invoking the I’m-not-sorry-but-I-gotta-say-this line of, “If anyone was offended …”

Canada hasn’t been cursed by a corporate-funded and controlled tea party that plagues the US. But an ultra-conservative prime minister won a majority government thanks to Liberal Party disarray and a weak leader, and Ford was elected because neither of the two reasonable candidates would step aside to allow the other a victory.

The effect has been as crippling as in America: Ideologues are in power who want to dismantle government, shred social benefits, sell public services, cut environmental protection and govern for the benefit of the mighty.

Canada still can pull itself back from the brink of American paralysis but only if the nation realizes what’s happening to it.

Originally posted to Charley James on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 07:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Canadian Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And he refuses to attend Pride parades (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    captainlaser

    in TO.

    Guy's a piece of work.  He actually reminds me some of Scotty Walker, what with Rob's brother being involved and all (Doug being a city councillor).

  •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini

    Even with a vote split among other candidates, how did this guy get elected?  You'd imagine that kind of vote would  be very small in someplace like Toronto.  

    Can't Dalton McGuinty lock him up on some sort of hate speech charges?  The Canadian Chris Christie is probably still about half the size of Chris Christie (and still probably taller).  

    Check out my new blog: http://socalliberal.wordpress.com/

    by SoCalLiberal on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 08:34:15 PM PDT

  •  And reading your entire diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greengemini, captainlaser

    This guy sounds like a major bozo.  I'm sorry Toronto folks have to put up with him.  I thought James Hahn and Adrian Fenty were bad mayors who's respective getting dumped from office I celebrated.  This guy is far worse.  

    He's also far more right wing than right wing mayors of major U.S. cities like Jerry Sanders, Michael Bloomberg, and Rudy Giuliani (though Bloomberg really isn't a right winger by anyone's standards).  

    Didn't you once have a Mayor of Toronto who blocked the group "Bare Naked Ladies" from playing because she found their band name offensive?  You guys do elect your fair share of nutjobs.  

    Check out my new blog: http://socalliberal.wordpress.com/

    by SoCalLiberal on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:01:31 PM PDT

  •  Good Luck to you... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694

    my Canadian brothers and sisters. My Granddad was from Nova Scotti  and was an union organizer back in the 1930's. Many progressives here in the US admire what our northern neighbors have done for health care and protecting your environment.

    Please don't give up the fight. Sometimes I wonder how far this rat hole of bat shit crazy conservatism will go before sanity will come back to the USA .

    Keep up the fight!!!

    The Ghost of Tom Joad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jVZHCUbS4U

    by Illinois IRV on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:02:52 PM PDT

  •  Rob and Doug (Bob and Doug) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, captainlaser

    are about as smart as the famous Canadian duo from SCTV fame. They even have a radio show that includes tips on how to get a free 2-4 of beer from the beer store by drowning baby mice in a bottle and taking it back to the store and asking for a refund.

    FYI, Doug is Robs brother (also an overweight politician), he's a Toronto city hall council member who has now announced that he will run on the provincial level if the budget is not passed next week.

    They both started weight loss pledges earlier this year and then abandoned their pledges after gaining more weight.

    Most of Canada is embarrassed by the two of them.

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 10:46:47 PM PDT

  •  I blame amalgamation more than vote splitting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, captainlaser

    If you look at any map of where Ford's votes came from, it's clear that he lost the old city and won everywhere else. For anyone not familiar, in the late 1990s the conservative government of Ontario forced a number of regions to amalgamate into megacities, with Toronto being one of them. This means that the City of Toronto is effectively a dense, progressive core surrounded by endless fields of suburbia. Ford pandered to the suburbanites by spouting off about the "war on the car" and how those evil downtown pinko commies want to build light rail and bike lanes, and since the suburbs could outvote downtown, he won with 47%, 11.5 points ahead of the nearest opposition. Amalgamation really was a great political move for the right wing: by forcing the suburbs and downtown into the same unit, they ensured that the political power of progressives would always be diluted on the local level from then on.

    Here's a map if anyone's interested in checking it out for themselves. The blue parts of that map (won by Smitherman) are pretty much Toronto pre-amalgamation.

    •  Etobicoke and Markham might as well be Hamilton (0+ / 0-)

      as far as how easy it is to get downtown from there.  Until the Metro is extended into those areas, anyone who wants to put more roads in for cars is going to win votes.

      But the ethnic makeup of those areas is also conservative now isn't it?  Doesn't the federal election map pretty much map out the same way?

      The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

      by captainlaser on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 06:26:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This thread is an insult. . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . . to Chris Christie. Christie actually appears to have a brain, albeit a rather pinched and hateful one. The worst thing about Ford is not what he stands for, but that he is so blatantly unqualified for the job. Think George Bush dumb but without the moneyed asshole frat boy charm.

  •  Isn't it curious about how bullies run screaming (0+ / 0-)

    and s**ting their panties when Marg Delahanty comes around?  

    Wonder what he'd do with Rick Mercer?

    Ford will coronary out before the end of his term.

    The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

    by captainlaser on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 06:18:50 PM PDT

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