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Rob Ford Is Here to Stay

Posted: 05/27/2013 12:04 pm

Such is the state of politics in Toronto these days that fresh Ford family drug accusations, courtesy of the Globe and Mail over the weekend, rattled just about no one here -- indeed, they seemed to offer us some respite from crackgate.

Councillor Doug Ford dealing hash in the 1980s? Child's play compared to what Rob Ford is alleged to have done as recently as in the last six months. As for the mayor, he finally denied using crack on Friday, and unless the purported videotape emerges -- and it now appears it won't -- he has escaped once again. Whether or not he has smoked crack -- whether or not he's smoking crack right now -- can't hurt the mayor unless there is proof for all of us to see. There isn't, so it's in Toronto's best interest to move on.

But you know who isn't likely to be moving on? Rob Ford. One expects he won't let this die out quietly -- he'll keep dragging out the allegations as yet another example of how the city's downtown, lefty social elite are out to get him (and make no mistake, they are). Because for Rob Ford, survival is the strategy.

Weathering these sorts of attacks has become the signature of the mayor's tenure -- if Ford is "embattled," as he is so often described now, no one told him. Having escaped harm yet again, he will feel even more invincible, even as his opponents keep digging for more dirt. (As they very well should, contrary to the sniffling of some commentators that journalists went too far this time. They didn't, and if the old rules of reporting were thrown out the window -- well, so what? Under those rules, Torontonians were being kept in the dark, and it's fair to say we deserved to know if a video of the mayor smoking crack was being shopped around by whomever. At some point, you've got to trust that your readers will understand what all those "allegedlys" and "purported to bes" are there for.)

This all raises the spectre that Toronto might not be rid of Rob Ford for some time -- that is, it somehow seems more likely now that he could be re-elected in October 2014. Judging by radio call-in shows over the last week and a bit, the mayor has his fair share of supporters out there -- still, amazingly, even after everything.

Some of them are delusional for sure -- the popular argument from the pro-Ford ranks that what the mayor does on his own time, even if it's crack cocaine, shouldn't matter is completely, utterly, stupid -- but there are a lot of people who still buy into his just a regular guy fighting for regular people like me shtick.

The polls say Olivia Chow would easily defeat Ford, but there's lots of time -- and given that pollsters also seem to be on crack lately, who knows what to think?

Another word about Ms. Chow: If she, as seems fairly likely, runs in the next mayoral election, we can expect one hell of a brutal campaign between her and Ford. It will be a showdown between right and left, downtown and suburbs -- not to mention the actual policy on the line, including the future of public transportation in Toronto.

It's hard to imagine the Ford brothers and their "nation," aren't licking their chops, and the left, of course, will without a doubt be likewise energized. If it comes down to Ford and Chow -- if Adam Vaughn and Karen Stintz don't muddy up the race from the left side (I refuse to believe John Tory will ever win anything again) -- it's going to get ugly fast. Word to the wise: That's exactly the way the Fords like it.

The campaign is still some ways off (though now is as good a time as any for Ms. Chow to announce her intentions). In the meantime, Torontonians would do well to try and put this behind us -- actually, the best thing would be for the city to have a laugh, just like everyone who doesn't live here has been doing. To acknowledge the ridiculous, dark, stupid humour of Rob Ford. Smile while you still can -- I have a hunch the Fords are just getting started with us.

Read more things from me here -- including a short play about Rob Ford.

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