An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE it’s been two years since the death of Rob Ford.
Though he was the mayor of far-away Toronto, we felt as though we knew him. He may have been contemptible in his own way, but he was a refreshing change from the stilted, yawn-inducing politics we’re so used to on this side of the country.
Sure, Question Period in the Ledge has its moments, and even B.C’s civic politicians sometimes get into some interesting scrapes, but it’s all so sanguine compared to Rob Ford.
He smoked crack cocaine, was often drunk in public, he was brash, a consummate populist, and careless with his language but always willing to apologize — over and over again — when he crossed the line. By the end of his time as mayor, he’d become a major national embarrassment, and a local folk hero.
He even made it onto Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he explained, “I wasn’t elected to be perfect.”
Ford originally made his mark with his calls to cut red tape, shrink civic government and stop what he called “the gravy train.” People loved him because he refused to spend public tax dollars on himself, once submitting an annual expense bill of $4.
He was famous for personally attending to constituent complaints, answering his own phone and sometimes driving to their homes to listen to their problems, no matter how small.
At the same time, he railed against bike lanes and called for more subways.
Sadly, as he was gearing up for another run at the mayor’s chair, he was diagnosed with cancer and died not long after at 46.
We’re still blessed with the political presence of his brother Doug, recently named leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. Doug Ford shares a little of Rob’s bombastic personality, is similarly conservative to the core, and has some interesting policies of his own.
But Doug Ford isn’t Rob Ford, and neither is anyone else.
Depending on your point of view, that’s either a good thing, or a sad thing.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.