I saw a delightful quote in the Toronto Star recently that gave me shivers of schadenfreude.
An inhabitant of Toronto's outer limits, a region dreadfully served by public transit, criticised Mayor Rob Ford's slaying of Transit City and along with it a light rail line that was to travel down Finch Avenue.
She doesn't want to "badmouth Mayor Ford", but feels disrespected, especially since Ford "said he's one of us" and that he is the "voice of the people."
It's the common man frame that Ford plays so well.
Ford never had a kind word for Transit City, referring to it as the "looming Transit City disaster"; was forthright in his plans to scrap it and did so unilaterally.
No one should be surprised.
Ford is an anti-intellectual politician. He shows little inclination for rational, evidence-based policy-making. Rather, Ford is fond of uttering fear-mongering statements, devoid of fact and heavily steeped in ideology, then skips over procedure to force his hare-brained proposals through City Hall.
He's done this with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation and public transit and his nonsensical position on taxes (freezes and terminations) and then spends $3 million on consultants to find that supposed gravy that was sloshing around City Hall.
Ford is also a master bullshitter. Harry Frankfurt, in his essay On Bullshit, describes the bullshitter as being "neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eyes are not on the facts at all...except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose."
All the while, he wears the common man mantle despite being in the top tier of high-income earners. Not many have a family business that can contribute almost $70,000 to one's political campaign and then have that business profit to the tune of $150,000 from that same campaign.
Ford mixes his family's business with his political ambitions. There's that old and obnoxious saw about running government like it's a business. But Ford runs the government like it's his business, right down to sole-sourcing cushy jobs to friends and transition team buddies.
His friend and transition team chief, ex-Councillor Case Ootes, is a one-man show at Toronto Community Housing and just sold off 22 city-owned homes without a debate. Or other pal and transition team member, ex-Councillor Gordon Chong, getting 100,000 clams to secure federal loot for the TTC - something that can be done by existing TTC staff (Chong will head up Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd, a firm that has Ford's brother Doug as a Director). Ford and his right-hand man and brother, Doug, are turning Toronto into Ford Inc.
This is old-time, patronage-driven Tammany Hall politics.
I hate to say I told you so to Torontonians like the one cited above, but I told you so.
And Ford's just getting started. You ain't seen nothin' yet.
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