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The Solution to the Rob Ford Circus? Let the People Decide!

Apparently Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s new PR media strategy is to get on as many American television networks as possible in the bizarre belief that somehow that will get his message across to the folks back home. If that’s true, he may want to work on his talking points just a tad. His approach on CNN wasn’t significantly better than it is with the local media in Toronto.

After being asked questions he didn’t really like he blurted out:

“It’s typical media: you guys are the same, you’re all cut from the same cloth, you guys can spin it any way you want.”

That certainly isn’t going to win him new friends and influence the media nor is this:

“I don’t look at myself as the mayor, I look at myself as just a normal, regular person.”

I think that’s precisely the point Mr. Mayor. An overwhelming number of people don’t look on  you as the mayor either. The latest poll indicated that 75% of the people of Toronto want you gone.

The federal conservatives have been fairly quiet about it all and who can blame them? The Prime Minister did work up the courage to call the Ford situation ‘troubling’ but only after his office released a statement that somehow managed to work Justin Trudeau into it. The guys in the PMO are so good at this stuff that I’m surprised actually that they didn’t blame Trudeau for the hurricane in the Philippines.

One of the few bright lights in the Conservative Cabinet these days; Jason Kenney called on Rob Ford to resign and calling his actions dishonourable to himself and to his office.

You’ll remember that Jason Kenney was also the first conservative to publicly defend the character of the PMO’s former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, after the Prime Minister tossed him under the bus when things got a little heated in Question Period.

The provincial government has tiptoed around the issue which isn’t a bad thing. The premier was not elected to her office by the people and it would set an unfortunate precedent for her to oust a duly elected official from office for anything less than the most egregious behaviour – although I believe Rob Ford is probably getting close to egregious if not disgusting.

The media continue to write and talk about it but you can tell that their hearts aren’t really in it anymore. I think a lot of them would like to move on to cover news that doesn’t leave them wanting a shower after filing their piece.

After promoting their ‘World Wide Exclusive’ on Monday, Sun News announced late in the day yesterday that they were pulling the plug on the Rob and Doug Show they ballyhooed with so much enthusiasm the day before. The official reason given was cost overruns based on the fact that there was five hours of taping and editing for the show. The show did pull in their highest ever audience so you kind of wonder why they wouldn’t try to trim costs while maintaining the audience but let’s go with cost cutting. I’m sure that the criticism and mockery of the first episode of Ford Nation, along with the serious hit to Sun’s credibility had nothing to do with the cancellation.

The whole Ford thing reminds me more of a cult than anything else. You have a sitting mayor who has admitted to breaking a string of criminal laws, lied about it, has a drinking problem, smokes marijuana and crack but his diehard supporters think he’s a great guy. Integrity, ethics, principle, dignity, even legality mean nothing to them. It’s not Rob Ford’s fault, it’s the media, it’s the elite, it’s city council and for some – well – there’s always the Liberals to blame.

Sort of sounds like the same drivel and adoring rationalization that come from David Suzuki’s or Justin Trudeau’s most rabid followers doesn’t it?

So it appears to be a stalemate. Despite increasing calls for his resignation, Rob Ford refuses to recognize that he has crossed the line and no longer has the moral authority to govern. He is like a spoiled kid who kicks and screams and threatens and bullies until he gets his own way.

Only, he isn’t going to get his own way this time.

Personally, I think the solution lies in taking him and his brother at their word and call a special election. Turn the decision over to the people of Toronto and let them decide.

Oh, I know, there are all kinds of issues like giving candidates the time to prepare and finance a campaign but what the hell, why not have the province give each registered candidate a specific amount of money and enact one-time legislation that they can only spend that amount on their campaign. I know it’s more taxpayer money but the Liberals have squandered billions so another $10 million or so isn’t going to matter much and if it ends this train wreck, it would be money well spent – certainly better than what McGuinty spent on full-day kindergarten and cancelling gas plants.

Of course, a key issue would be whether or not there are other candidates.

There’s been lots of hemming and hawing on the sidelines from people like John Tory, Olive Chow and Adam Vaughan but none of them have actually declared yet. They’re still doing that coy, ‘coax me’ dance that politicians do after they’ve decided to run but before they’re prepared to announce their decision.

No matter. Call the election and let candidates come forward – or not – as they choose. The people of Toronto should be no more delayed in deciding how to resolve this by candidates who ‘might’ want to run at some point than the current evil Muppet they already have.

Of course, I don’t really have much experience with organizing elections and maybe it would require more than sixty odd days to get ‘er done. No worries; hold a referendum. Put a simple question to the citizens of Toronto:

“Do you support the removal of Mayor Rob Ford from his position and having the Deputy Mayor fill the role of Acting Mayor until after the next municipal election?”

Either way, it is the people that would decided the issue.

There wouldn’t be any difficulty passing the legislation even though the Wynne Government is a minority government. The Conservatives under Tim Hudak have already announced they will support legislation to oust the mayor and calling an election would be more palatable to them than voting to kick a fellow conservative from office.

An election or a referendum is a win-win for everybody. Rob Ford is already on the record that he wants one so call his bluff. A vote by the people lets all politicians provincially and on Toronto City Council off the hook by transferring responsibility for the outcome to citizens. It would give the media something new to talk about (much to their relief). There is no loser if the people make the decision – other than the people, of course, if they don’t choose wisely.

But then, that’s both the strength and weakness of democracy – in a democracy the people have the right to be wrong and – well – we often are.

But despite our poor batting average in the voting booth; let’s give it another go and have an election at the end of January or a referendum even sooner. There’s nothing much happening after New Year’s anyway and having Rob Ford and his brother continuing this gong show all through the Christmas season would be like having to listen to the Grinch sing Christmas carols off key all month.

Let’s have an election or referendum and let the people decide. If they vote to toss him out – well – at that point, Rob Ford will have no more arrows in his quiver and we can all go back to whining about Justin Trudeau.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • Randy

    I believe that since Ford does not have the integrity to resign, and it is
    undemocratic to kick him out as he was elected to office, there should be
    a referendum. An election could set a dangerous precedent in that one
    could be called every time a mayor is elected that is unpopular with a vocal
    minority. A non-binding referendum stating that due to illegal activities and
    disrespectful conduct in office, the deputy mayor should run the city until
    the next civic elections. Then if Ford loses the referendum and refuses
    to step down, any moral authority he has from winning the election is gone.
    City council would be right to strip him of his powers in office and make him
    as impotent as possible.
    Any person who feels Ford still has the right to continue in office has little
    respect for the roles of public office and the democratic process, at least
    in my opinion. It is not about having your guy in office, it is about having the
    best person in office. Rob Ford did not run his campaign based on the fact
    he did drugs, drove impaired and would lie. If he had and people elected him
    anyway, then he stays until voted out. The present situation ridicules the
    office of mayor for Toronto and is hopefully an eye opener for voters.

    • MaggiesBear

      I think that a special election is actually less dangerous than a referendum. It’s too easy to hold a referendum but either way, I think that the criteria should be specific enough so that people like Rob Ford can either be removed from or confirmed or confirmed in their office.

      I think those criteria could include the admission of having committed criminal acts.In the case of a an elected official being charged but not convicted of a criminal act, the legislation should probably include a mechanism that requires the official to step aside temporarily pending the outcome of his or her trial. But where the official has publicly admitted wrong doing, then I think it should be put to the people either in an election or a referendum.

  • oldwhiteguy

    75% of liberal socialists want ford gone. 60% of voters would re-elect him.

    • MaggiesBear

      Why is it that conservatives find it so hard to believe that not everyone who wants Ford gone is a socialist? You have no data to support your statement and, in fact, in a poll done last week, no matter who you ran against Ford in an election: left or right, he lost he would lose in every case no matter who won. There’s a lot more to this country than just progressives and hard right conservatives. There’s things called decency, respect and dignity. Ford has lied repeatedly. He has disgraced his office. He is the Chief Magistrate of Toronto and as such is in charge of the Police Service but has admitted to associating with drug dealers, buying illegal drugs and drinking while driving. You don’t have to be a socialist to know that’s just plain wrong.

      • JustTheFactsPlease

        Again, I agree with your post.
        A few thoughts:
        1) OldWhiteGuy, you may be correct the RF doesn’t appeal to ‘Liberal Socialist’, however many other don’t want him either and as MaggieBear has said we have no stats.
        2) I don’t believe RF as Mayor is in charge of the Toronto Police Services (could be wrong but pretty sure the Mayor’s office is at arms length).
        3) I believe the Ford situation has a potential to create a ‘class’ war. Giving the Ford’s a voice and media platform may give rise to people who may feel disenfranchised by our political system, an opportunity to ‘champion’ a person who appears to be ‘more like’ themselves rather than the ‘smooth talking’ politicians who they haven’t or can’t relate to. (I wonder how much consideration the current political power players have given to this?)

        Interesting times as the availability of information continues to change our world.

      • oldwhiteguy

        you missed the sarcasm in the post. I do however think he would or will be re-elected.

        • MaggiesBear

          You’re right, I did miss the sarcasm. I think that some days, my brain is fried. I probably need a solid week in a floating chair by a poolside bar or at the very least, a week of Antiques Roadshow reruns. If that doesn’t cleanse your brain, nothing will.