Monday, October 25, 2010

Good luck Mr. Ford, good luck Toronto

I felt a flash of disappointment when I read Toronto's election results. I grew up in that part of the country, and I'm very fond of the old Toronto of my childhood. Red Gloucester subway trains, avenues of century homes lined with old hardwoods. The colour and flare of Queen, the Danforth, and Harbourfront. There's a feel and character to that Toronto that I find profoundly nostalgic, and sometimes when I visit, the city flashes her eyes at me in that way again. So it bothers me on a number of levels when the people of Toronto do something so antithetical to its rich history and the personality I know. 

Rob Ford isn't old Toronto. He isn't of Kensington or the Beaches. Or the mansions of Wychwood, or the rainbows on Church. He isn't a rainy autumn ferry to a folk festival on the Island.  He isn't hidden cafes and dark pubs, theatres and concert halls. He isn't sticky summer nights roaming the city bathed in drink, neon and streetlamps, searching, laughing with friend.  You won't find him haunting the stone around the U of T. Ford is alien to all these things.

This man represents the new Toronto I don't recognise. Aside from his ruddy face, he is colourless. He's like the vast suburbs that now extract spirit from of the city core. Bloated, layer upon bloated layer of uniform tissue that now surrounds Toronto and draws the lifeblood from the old core, draining it with the repetitive entropy of mediocrity and outrage. He's part of the new Toronto that so recently pimped out the sacred citizenry to the violence of the visiting state.

The city's gone wobbly in the head, and lost its bearing. Ford is the product of this and for all his lunacy about bikes, taxes, and the like, he's made promises that as Chet points out, are impossible to deliver on successfully if at all. That this new Toronto elected him shows they suffer from the same dementia that produced Ford. Maybe deep down the new mayor realises some of this, but likely not. Either way, he's about to find out what it takes to run a city and the limits of the mayor's office.

So my flash of anger passed. It is plain to the watchers that Ford, despite the views of much of the electorate, hasn't got the wherewhithal to handle the pressures office or understand the needs of a city. It's also bleeding obvious that enough of Toronto has bought into his bloviating populism and doesn't 'get it' either. Scandals and other disaster await him and it won't be easy for anyone, including his worship - but it might be entertaining in places. But this is how the Toronto of this generation is meant to learn.

So I say good luck, because they're all going to need if they want to find the next election without too much harm done, but enough for them to learn who not to re-elect.

7 comments:

RossK said...

Boris,

The thing I find frightening is that the ring of bloat you describe (eg. the suburbs, not the man) is the same one that The Harpoon will very likely try to yank on in his efforts to pull the Center of the Universe into his desperate clutches next time out....

Peter said...

Rob Ford isn't old Toronto. He isn't of Kensington or the Beaches. Or the mansions of Wychwood, or the rainbows on Church. He isn't a rainy autumn ferry to a folk festival on the Island. He isn't hidden cafes and dark pubs, theatres and concert halls. He isn't sticky summer nights roaming the city bathed in drink, neon and streetlamps, searching laughing with friend. You won't find him haunting the stone around the U of T. Ford is alien to all these things.

My God, Boris, that was pure poetry! It brings to mind a Victorian Tory bemoaning the disappearance of Olde England, whose pastoral harmonies were squeezed out by the exploding tenements of the sweaty and mannerless working class. The stone at U of T was a particularly wistful touch, worthy of Evelyn Waugh pining for his Oxford days.

900ft Jesus said...

beautiful prose, Boris. Felt like I was there.

Well, Ottawa did learn with Lex O'Brien Luthor and ousted him...solidly. Ford isn't just a lying, corrupt bastard, he's very stupid so I don't imagine he'll fool voters next time around. I'll be surprised if he lasts full term without having a heart attack or an aneurism.

JimBobby said...

I got faith in the good folks of Trawna. They survived Mel Lastman, so I reckon they'll survive Rob Ford. When it turns out he can't deliver on his pie-in-the-sky tax relief promises, that ain't gonna help the HarpoonTosser win federal votes in the Big Smoke.

I can hardly wait for the heckling that Ford's gonna be taking when "His Worship" is up on his hindlegs at every two-bit event in Hoggtown. Whooee! Fun times are comin'.

CK said...

Hmm, don't underestimate him. One thing I stopped doing ages ago is underestimating the far right. It would be a mistake. The same mistake that got him elected in the first place.

Although, it'll take time and some doing, I think he'll be able to accomplish at least many of the things he set out. Why? Because, for one, the electorate want him too. One thing is he plans to cut the city hall from 44 seats to 22. Some Jerrymandering (spelling?) would happen here. As you mentioned about the growing suburbs, well, I wouldn't put it past him to incorporate those wards that are part of the inner city with those of the burbs.

You know that tea-bagging mentality of "Smaller government!" Even if he requires permission from the province, who's to say they won't give it to them when budget slashing is in vogue now.

Hope for the best, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the man. After all, it was once upon a time, unthinkable that the Archie Bunker wannabe would ever be elected in the first place.

Funny how being mayor meant building cities. this one wants to break it apart.

Unknown said...

the Mound of Sound had the best Rob Ford headline I have seen

Scanner said...

http://networkedblogs.com/9HPOa