Rob Ford yet again makes all other news in Toronto beside the point ????

Aug 29th, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

There’s suddenly quite a lot on the local political (and economic) scene, here on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario – and it isn’t even quite Labour Day yet.

To start with, so Tim Horton’s selling out to Burger King isn’t enough? (See : “Tim Horton’s merger talks not a big concern for Toronto customers” ; and “Burger King-Tim Horton: Scrap the Corporation Tax Completely.”) The people of New Brunswick, seriously down east, will also be going to the polls on Monday, September 22.

And see, eg : “Smaller parties seek breakthrough in New Brunswick election.” The province is still holding out for the old two-party system. But MAYBE it actually is itching for change here in 2014, at last ?? And what if the New Brunswick New Democrats – unrepresented in the provincial legislature since 2005 – suddenly did surprisingly well on September 22 ?? That could be good news for Thomas Mulcair and the federal NDP, etc, etc, etc, etc … (And see also the sometimes prescient Lawrence Martin on “How Mulcair plans to overtake the Boy Wonder.”)

Then there is : “Teachers’ dispute clock ticks on start of school year …  No negotiations, but BC Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker, Education Minister Peter Fassbender to meet face-to-face Wednesday” ;  and “BC teachers’ strike: Can Vince Ready mediate a ‘miracle’?” Many in Ontario are interested in all this – with an eye on potential comparable developments in what does remain Canada’s most populous province, by quite a lot.

From another related angle again, we here in Central Canada read with some interest (and amusement) about how “Premiers turn to trade on Day 1 of meetings … Western premiers say they’ll review provincial rules to break down trade barriers.” And then of course it is good to see that “Ontario willing to talk trade barriers with Saskatchewan.”Â  (As the old regional adage has it, drilled into many among us since childhood etc, “talk is cheap.”)

Wouldn't you rather have the lovely Olivia Chow as your mayor ????

At the same time, for practical purposes all other thoughts have suddenly vanished in the political minds of all who qualify to vote in the coming October 27 City of Toronto municipal election. Here the sudden biggest news – and again it isn’t even quite Labour Day yet – is covered by such headlines as : “Rob Ford only a few points behind Tory in new mayoral poll” ; “Being not-Ford is not enough for Olivia Chow” ; “Rob Ford could actually win reelection” (from as far away as the Washington Post!) ; and (by a serious, seasoned, and respected local journalist, writing in the arch-anti-Fordist Toronto Star) “Why Rob Ford will win again in Toronto … Four factors point toward re-election of Mayor Rob Ford … .”

* * * *

For those of us who haven’t quite finished our gin and tonics down at the dock yet, the now suddenly seriously serious prospect that the Crazy Mayor of Crazy Town actually could win again is bound to come as a shock – like a bucket of the ice-water that Stephen Harper (probably wisely?) refused to have dumped on his prime ministerial head. And people like me think we get the point, sort of, because we know that some people we know and like actually are going to vote for Rob Ford! We also know there is absolutely nothing we can say that would make them not vote for Rob Ford.

And what I suddenly remember best is how, at Pauper’s on fashionable Bloor Street West (a bit east of Honest Ed’s!), our legal counsel reacted to the first hints that Tory was ahead of Chow, and Ford gaining strength, with : “But it doesn’t matter if Ford wins, as long as the majority on Council is against him. Right?” A chill went down my spine, on an already cool summer night.

Those who absolutely do not want to see Rob Ford win again, under any circumstances, probably ought to be getting quite worried. I will confess that all this really is starting to spoil my last gin and tonic at the dock. And I am certainly getting worried myself.

John Tory and old protege (and current Ontario Liberal cabinet minister) Mitzie Hunter : remembering their Civic Action days, May 2013.

Of course the election is still almost two months away. The serious part of the race is just beginning. It is the next poll that’s really important. It could be rather different … But then yet again … what if it’s not ????  I respect the free and democratic opinions of all those who are so attached to Rob Ford. But can the Toronto I like to live in seriously survive another four years of the Ford Brothers Circus at City Hall? As the English historian J.H. (Jack) Plumb so memorably explained, back in the late 1960s : “Traditions are quickly bred and quickly destroyed and they snap suddenly in a world of rapid social change.”

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