A couple weeks ago I wondered aimlessly if humans could ever devise a unit of measurement large enough to document the volume of stories Canadian journalists produce whenever something involving Ontario politics enters the headlines. It now seems we have our answer: a Ford-load.
If you're from some non-Toronto region of this country, you may best know Mayor Rob Ford as that guy who stars in all the breathlessly outraged stories your hipster Ontario friends post on Facebook (The man called 911, can you believe it?!). But now it seems our long, and evidently "national" nightmare is over: on Monday Justice Charles Hackland declared the big guy was to be kicked from office on conflict-of-interest charges.
Now Rob's a polarizing dude, so one of the more remarkable things about this scandal is that hardly anyone, anywhere on the partisan spectrum, disputes any of the actual events of Fordgate.
They simply dispute how much we should care.
Context! Back in 2008, whilst still a humble councillor, Ford used city letterhead to solicit donations for this charity he was running ("Footballs for Orphans" or some such). That was against the rules, so city council called a meeting to yak about it. Councilman Ford spoke (and voted) in his own defense, which was also against the rules. And now Justice Hackland has enforced the penalty for breaking the rules. Come December 10, Mayor Ford is gonna become just an ordinary guy living in Toronto. I think most of Canada would agree that it's hard to imagine a crueler sentence.
Outrage, thunders Christine Blatchford in the National Post. This is "using an elephant gun of a statute on a flea of a misdemeanour." And how, agrees coworker Marni Soupcoff, the "democratic will of the population has just been smashed to smithereens by the gavel of a single unelected judge." But whatd'ya expect,snarks Tarek Fatah in the Sun, the "burgoeois" elites of this city never liked having a right-wing everyman in charge, and now they've staged a "judicial coup as a way to punish us Torontonians for electing someone they see as a fool."
All the pro-Ford folks quote Judge Hackland liberally in their defenses, noting the Hackster himself repeatedly admitted that Fordgate involved "absolutely no issue of corruption or pecuniary gain." The judge was simply enforcing "a very blunt instrument" to uphold a municipal rule that basically made it a crime for a councillor to publicly defend himself -- a fact Hacky described as an undeniable "procedural fairness deficiency" in Torontonian statute.
But there's still the awkward matter that Ford, y'know, broke the law. And in the immortal words of Rex Banner from The Simpsons, if life let us choose which laws we wanted to obey, "I'd kill everyone who looked at me cockeyed."
Yeah, newsflash Your Worship, you "can't coach without knowing the rules," snipes the Globe and Mail editorial board, noting that a large reason Robby tumbled in the first place was because he arrogantly believed he didn't have to obey laws "he didn't like" (and, as came out in trial, didn't even read). The whole thing could have been "easily avoided through exercising just a modicum of common sense and a bit of self control," adds the board of the Toronto Star, "but that, of course, has never been Ford's strength." Me-yow!
What's most interesting about the whole saga, however, is that Mayor Ford, an unapologetic conservative, was essentially the victim of a zero-tolerance, context-be-damned, mandatory minimum sentence of the sort his allies in Ottawa are endlessly pushing. The irony is "delicious" drools the Post's house liberal John Moore.
But alas, this is one tasty treat the Mayor can't enjoy.
So here's some fun political math. The Green Party of Canada was founded in 1983. In the nearly three decades since, it has elected precisely one MP. Assuming they can keep up the pace, and representation in the House of Commons doesn't change too dramatically, by my estimation we can thus anticipate a Green majority government sometime around... 6632 A.D.
In a string of byelections held Monday, the Greens did what they always do -- namely, lose -- but I'll understand if you somehow missed that fact. So pervasive is the Green bias in our nation's papers that the Elizabeth May road show is basically guaranteed positive headlines any day they manage to stumble out of bed without tying their shoelaces together.
An "unambiguously good day" for the Greens is the conclusion Postmedia's Michael Den Tandt draws from their second, third, and fourth place showings in this week's trio of races. Clearly, this is a party that's "starting to walk on two feet" applauds the Globe's Jon Ibbitson, in what must truly be one of the weakest compliments ever given to a 30-year-old.
No denying it -- we're witnessing the evolution of this "former fringe party into a solid performer" agrees the Victoria Times-Colonist's Les Leyne. Granted, Les is referring mostly to the Greens' second-place showing in Victoria; a riding which bordered Ms. May's and where, by Les' own admission, the party openly proclaimed there was nothing at stake. And the Tories "urged their voters to go Green" to hurt the NDP. But yeah, this party "is for real."
Yup, everyone stand back, warns the Toronto Star's Tim Harper, because the Greens are at the "brink of a minor breakthrough."
And perhaps they are, Tim. Just not this millennium.