By now, you’ve heard more than enough about Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s various struggles. If not, chances are you live on campus, without easy access to decent Wi-fi.
The media would have you believe that Rob Ford is the worst thing to happen to Toronto since Maple Leaf Gardens was desecrated by partially becoming a Loblaws store.
According to many, the apocalypse is upon Toronto and, by extension, all of Canada because one mayor of one city has a drinking problem for which he is seeking help, which once (as far as we know) led to smoking crack. But when I look past the drinking, drug use, and generally boorish behaviour of Rob Ford, I see that he is not a bad politician. He has done most of the things he promised, whether you like those things or not.
He built his name on personally responding to his constituents, going so far as to give out his personal cell phone number. So why, then, are the media demanding Rob Ford’s head on a platter?
Is it because Ford has lied about certain incidents in his personal life? Maybe, but since when has honesty been a required trait of a politician? Many a politician has been caught in a lie about certain dark episodes outside of their political life. Bill Clinton comes to mind – he enjoys high popularity ratings even after he was caught in a lie about cheating on his wife with an intern. So clearly, the media doesn’t always make an issue of a politician’s honesty or lack thereof. Yet they do this to Ford.
Is it because of his substance use issues? Hardly. After all, the media gave a free pass to Justin Trudeau when he admitted to using illegal drugs while in office. Trudeau’s response that marijuana should be legalized ensured that the mainstream media glossed over the fact that an elected official used illegal drugs while in office.
George Smitherman, Ford’s main rival in the 2010 election, hardly caused a stir when he admitted a past drug addiction, and won the endorsement of the Toronto Star. So clearly, breaking Canada’s drug laws while in office hasn’t been sufficient grounds for the media to persecute a politician – unless it’s Rob Ford.
Could the media possibly dislike Rob Ford because of his tax–cutting, infrastructure–building platform? Maybe they do not like that his power base is largely in the middle–class suburbs? This seems like a better possibility. Simply put, the mainstream media simply cannot tolerate the fact that Rob Ford is a regular guy, not a downtown liberal elite.
To be fair, Ford is a very polarizing individual; not many Torontonians feel neutral about him.
However, their absolute dislike of the man and their blatant disregard for his privacy, fed by the left–wing faction of Toronto City Council, inflames the masses with the same anti–Fordism. Never mind that Ford was democratically elected and that his approval rating is higher than Barack Obama’s; to read a Toronto newspaper these days is to hear that all of Toronto wants the mayor out of office. This fact is not true, and with good reason.
Rob Ford is not a bad mayor.
Perhaps if the media were to get off his back, the man’s message would reach the public, unfiltered and honest. Maybe Ford would have an easier time restructuring his life if media were not hounding him constantly.
But allowing Rob Ford some normalcy will not make very good news, will it?