Humiliation fatigue: thoughts on the mayor of my adopted city

Last night, both Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel took aim at my city’s mayor, Rob Ford–for a video in which he’s apparently seen to be smoking crack. This morning, local news outlets are having shit fits and claiming, among other things, that Ford is ruining Toronto’s reputation–and ruining it for the long run. I don’t know if this is hyperbolic or not; only time, and whoever has to come in clean up his bloody mess at city council, will be able to say whether or not this is true.

What is true is that my city is in crisis. Yesterday, city council voted 40-4 against Ford’s cherished plan for a downtown casino; city council is so antithetical to this guy that I have no idea if they voted against the casino because their constituents didn’t want it or because they hate him. I was against the casino myself, but if it’s the latter then Ford’s dysfunction has poisoned the waters and we need a do-over–on everything.

Indeed, we’ve all been dragged so far into the dirt by this mayor that Conrad Black has become our voice of reason, our moral compass! My daddy always told me that if you lie down with dogs you’re gonna get fleas. Fleas? We’ve got fucking mange. This whole damned city needs to be fitted with the cone of shame and put in quarantine.

Gawker’s Crackstarter campaign to buy the video from the crack dealers has already raised over $100,000. They need 200k; not sure what happens when they raise all the money–and I’m sure they will. Speaking of dogs, we may be in Toronto but this is like living on the prairies: we’ve been watching our collective dignity run away for what seems like an eternity now, and it’ll be a long time before it comes back. I don’t say this because it’s shabby to try to pay a couple of drug dealers for a video like this; I don’t know whether or not it is, to be honest. I say that our dignity is long gone because we elected this schmo in the first place; Rob Ford is a lot of things but a clever dissimulator he is not–it’s been obvious since day 1 of his first election campaign that he’s a thug and people still voted him into power.

So, yes, Conrad Black–a convicted felon and all around slimeball–is our moral compass now, and we have no better because we deserve no better. We should be up in arms, protesting every day, not leaving it to an American website to set up a Kickstarter campaign to buy this video and get it to the police. We’re quieter than makes moral sense. My theory?  Everyone here is just too tired. Exhausted. And completely unsurprised. He smokes crack? Under the influence of crack, he apparently dropped the f-bomb on the leader of our federal Liberal party? Made some charming comments about minorities? Yeah, so? What did anybody think was going to happen? We’re bombarded with this guy’s bed-shitting every day. We’re, as individuals, made fun of in varying degrees of gentleness, by our friends and relatives under the leadership of notably less embarrassing political leaders in other municipalities. Or, we were–this has gone on so long, that even our understandably righteous tormenters from afar are tired too and have stopped their teasing! Everyone here, and everyone connected to us now, is just worn down by embarrassment and discomfort at Mayor Rob Ford’s antics.

Nobody here expects anything good of Mayor Ford anymore. Not the possibility of him suddenly becoming a semi-competent human being, not the possibility of him caring enough to notice that everyone completely disrespects him and so resigning. What’s left? Just go to sleep and hope that it’s all over soon?

You see, until just this afternoon, this man had suffered no consequences for either illegal or buffoonish behaviour. He has always walked away with his job and has thus been enabled to continue to not give a shit about what people think of him. But today the Toronto District Catholic School Board decided it couldn’t be affiliated with this disaster any more and fired him as coach of the Don Bosco Secondary School football team–a job he was, apparently, pretty good at. And maybe the only thing he really likes.

Because he sure doesn’t like people and given his attendance record at City Hall and his propensity to vote against literally every motion except those he’s put forward himself, he can’t like his job as mayor all that much either. Perhaps I’m misguided, but it seems to me that liking people and the city of which you’re the mayor are requisites of the job. Not the only requisites, of course, but very, very important ones.

Also this afternoon, Rob sent his brother Dougie to address those crack cocaine accusations. That’s right, he didn’t come and talk to the press, he sent someone else–not a qualified PR person, another blustering bully like himself, albeit a slightly more lucid and genial one. This was what we call a failure in crisis management. Like his brother, Dougie didn’t actually answer any pertinent questions. I wonder how long two people can simultaneously bluster and keep their heads in the sand without eventually choking.

The interwebs are buzzing, and many believe that this, finally, will be the scandal that will so persistently not go away that Rob Ford will just have to resign. I don’t see this. I think he hates this city; so much of what he’s done has implied a desire to destroy everything good about it–and how better to accomplish this than to remain in power until the wretched end of his elected term? He won’t change, but we’ll continue to slide down to his level–and that’s the real tragedy in all this muck and farce.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. We had Marion Barry mayor of our nation’s capitol arrested buying crack, went to jail, got out, got elected to city council, and then back to being mayor…it’s like the American dream written by J.G. Ballard or something.

    “Democracy demands an educated and informed electorate” That is our failure in the States and I sincerely hope Canada didn’t catch it by proximity.

    Strange that our first blog conversation was about political heroes.

    1. Colleen says:

      I meant to reply to this earlier…

      I’ve sometimes wondered if an educated and informed electorate is a reality anywhere–certainly not here. And then there’s another but, connected, issue: an electorate that gives even one tiny little shit for its neighbours. Rob Ford got elected here basically for promising drivers he’d revoke some insurance tax that would amount to individuals saving $60/year. Yep, a whole bunch of people sold this city so they could each save 5 bucks a month.

      I am, generally, completely without hope that I will have the opportunity again to vote for anyone better than “the least worst.”

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