Torontonians have just elected a member of the well-fed, affluent elite of this city as our next mayor. Yes, Im referring to that porcine gent, Rob Ford. He is rich enough as the CFO of his family’s printing business that he didn’t need to spend any of the allocated expense money he was entitled to as a city councillor. Did I mention that he is also a university graduate? So, how come he is the darling of the downtrodden masses who are just scraping by in this beleaguered economy?
I think I know how he did it. He told us that the current city administration was getting away with gross misbehaviour and he wasn’t going to put up with it any longer. It was an instructive lesson in basic political chicanery whereby the message was repeated over and over that that this city was going nowhere because the spending of the Miller regime was out of control and his fellow councillors were riding a ‘gravy train’ at the expense of taxpayers. The truth of the matter was never really covered by the media.
Residents in the downtown core (i.e. the original city of Toronto) were not fooled as they had watched development and renewal everywhere they looked. If the TTC was not perfect it was on the cusp of new developments that were intended to improve the system. In the suburban regions voters looked to Ford to rectify all the failings that he had described — especially the despised vehicle registration tax. Suburbanites love their cars and hate the gridlock commute in and out of the core area but don’t want to have to pay to have that problem fixed. The equivalent of the population of the city of Winnipeg comes in and out of the city core every business day — the detritus from which the core population has to deal with.
Ford’s fixation with subway extensions sounds fine until you come to grips with the cost of implementation. Scrapping the Metrolinx project would be costly and set the commuter issues back for years. His focus on cutting out discretionary spending by councillors was an attention-grabber for a substantive number of the electorate who did not see beyond the pettiness of that argument. Personally, I would love to take the TTC downtown or anywhere else in the city if there were more direct transit links from my location in Scarborough village.
What is truly sad is the fact that Ford was elected mayor for the next 4 years by 24% of the electorate (52% of those eligible voted and he garnered 47% of those) So my next bumper sticker is going to say: "Don’t blame me… I voted".