Rob Ford

Now that we’ve got Halloween out of the way, let’s think about something really scary!

The Toronto Star informed us recently: “Massive storm moving towards Toronto.” I’ll say!

Granted, I haven’t lived in Toronto for more than 20 years, but the election of Rob Ford as mayor looks to me like an unmitigated disaster for one of my favourite Canadian cities. The immediate question is: What’s the appropriate response for progressive people and politicians, supporters of public transit, those of us who are dubious about car culture in big cities, those of us who believe in the value of public service jobs?

The answer: Fight him every step of the way. Every inch. Burn the crops. Kill the cattle. Poison the wells.

I know, I know. There will be plenty of knucklehead “progressive” advocates for being reasonable, co-operating, striving to reach “the only possible compromise.” Yadda yadda.

To hell with that! With people like Rob Ford, compromise is surrender. Resistance is not only not futile, it is the only strategy that will work with these clowns.

Democracy? Did someone say something about democracy? Since when is it democratic to impose a huge amalgamation of disparate interests on a great city, confident in the knowledge that the Tory-led voters of the 905 Belt would overwhelm and destroy what was wonderful about the city for their own short-term gain?

We play a version of that game at the provincial level here in Alberta, where gerrymandered rural ridings set the urban agenda with the result that many of our cities — especially “Redmonton,” which is always unpopular with small-town conservatives for its city slicker habit of electing progressive politicians — resemble Pyongyang in December, only without the epic buildings and quality snow-clearing services.

Surely the election of Ford was precisely what that unlamented Ontario premier, Mike Harris, had in mind when he stuffed amalgamation up Toronto’s nose in 1998.

Ask yourself: What would the right do in similar circumstances. Their playbook is well understood, and known to be effective. They obstruct everything. They let no good deed go unpunished. They do it because it works.

Since when did the right ever surrender to us on those rare occasions when our guy won an election? When those guys lose, outright sabotage, international badmouthing, lies and vicious push-polls — all backed up by an enthusiastic mainstream media chorus — are the order of the day. And it continues every day until their non-union band in the Styrofoam boaters gets to play Happy Days are Here Again.

Just look at the history of business groups in British Columbia on the Prairies over the years whenever — quelle horreur! — an NDP government managed to deke past the media defamation campaign and slip into office. They’ll badmouth “the socialists” from Hong Kong to Johannesburg, even at the risk of economic loss to their own businesses, to get their cronies back into power as quickly as possible. The payoff comes later, of course.

Indeed, we can see this scenario playing out before our very eyes next door in the United States, with the billionaire-plutocrat-financed “Tea Party” assault on President Barack Obama — who is hardly a raging socialist. We will know the results of part of that campaign tomorrow.

Well, when it comes to Rob Ford and his claque, I say rip a page from their book, because it’s the only reasonable response under circumstances like these. To paraphrase someone rather to the right, whose name escapes me just at the moment, fight them in the fields and in the streets. This being Toronto, you can fight them in the Beaches, too. Fight them with growing confidence and growing strength. Never surrender … no matter how picayune each battle seems.

And don’t forgive and forget the actions of our supposed allies who opt for compromise, for collaboration, either. To hell with them too!

As I told my daughter when she returned from Germany last summer agog at how university students there filled the streets of the city she was living in to protest a tuition fee increase that was minuscule by Canadian standards: “That, my dear, is how you keep tuition low.” Do you think the French unions will get a worse deal because they’re prepared to take to the streets to protect their pensions? C’mon! That’s not how it works, and you know it.

Oh, and did I hear someone say, we’re better than that? Well, to hell with that too! “Nice guys finish last” may be a stereotype, but it’s a stereotype for a reason.

Fight them every day because nothing else will work.

Fight them every day because, after three years of disruption and division, voters will want an end to the discord.

Fight them every day because they wouldn’t surrender to you in the same circumstances and it is the only thing in the end that will save your city.

Fight them every day to prove Canadian progressives still have some spine!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog, Alberta Diary.

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe...