THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Squeezed in the jaws of rising income inequality, many suburbanites were receptive to Rob Ford's simple and coherent message: cut waste in government, hold the line on taxes, and end the "war on the car." For them, Ford was the right man at the right time.
Both before and during the previous election, it was clear that Rob Ford was racist, homophobic, and had problems with substance abuse and honesty. Nevertheless he won the election. We, all of us who care about justice and democracy, need to ask ourselves why this happened.
It seems now's the time everyone in Toronto is looking for a scapegoat for Rob Ford, and that scapegoat is "the suburbs." And the ire that title is beginning to get thrown around with is starting the have all the trappings of actual hate speech. The majority of this attitude is coming from my peer group, from mid-20 to mid-30 somethings who regularly laud themselves as champions of social and political issues, with a variable perma-overflowing cornucopia of things to protest and defend -- anything but ignorant. But for all intensive purposes it is this same group of people who are now, in effect, "othering" the suburbs. It'd be an easy thing to shrug, to pass off as heat-of-the-moment, if it weren't so permeating and well, stupid.
Rob Ford isn't a mistake. We like to think Canada is a tolerant nation, but the mayor's pride and prejudice is an accurate reflection of much of the city he leads. We like to imagine we're nothing like our neighbours to the south, but Toronto has its red states and its blue states; it has its Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain wrapped up in one neat 330-pound package.
No matter how much you try to talk rationally to the citizens of Ford Nation, it won't work. That rising approval poll proves it. And so here's another parenting lesson we need to pay attention to: If two kids can't get along, no matter how hard you try to make them, at some point you need to separate them. If you don't you risk harming both. That's why it's time to dismantle the Toronto megacity. While I'm tempted to call it a failed experiment, in reality it was just a power grab. The only actual result of "uniting" Toronto has been to further divide it. Yes, it's sadly become an us and them situation.