NEWS
03/31/2016 05:00 EDT | Updated 04/01/2017 01:12 EDT

Rob Ford's misdeeds shouldn't be forgotten, political opponents say

Rob Ford has been praised and eulogized in the days since his death.

But political opponents of the former Toronto mayor and city councillor say he did damage to his old ward, was an example of how not to govern and has left a community in much need of improvement.

Andray Domise, council candidate

Andray Domise, 35, who ran unsuccessfully against Ford for a city council seat in Ward 2 Etobicoke North in October 2014, said Ford failed to bring jobs to the corner of the city that he represented before and after he was mayor.

"I'm trying to be nice, and I'm afraid I can't," Domise said. "He left a terrible legacy. Rob Ford didn't want our neighbourhood to have anything that he didn't give to the area himself.

"When someone passes away, you canonize them. He doesn't need someone else to affix a halo to his head. He did a lot of damage to the neighbourhood."

Domise, a financial planner, put his name on the ballot before Ford dropped out of the mayoralty race to run for council, following his cancer diagnosis.

Domise said he ran to bring attention to issues such as jobs and poverty in Rexdale, a neighbourhood in Ward 2, access to transit and opportunities for youth. He pushed for the Finch West light rail transit project to be connected to Humber College.

"People still say it's easier to get a gun in Rexdale than a job," he said.

Domise said he wanted to create a program called Techsdale, a kind of recreation centre where young people could learn about technology, and he is continuing to raise money through a crowdfunding campaign to launch it.

Heavy manufacturing used to provide jobs in Ward 2, but he said most of the jobs now are in education and retail, with the biggest employers being Humber College and Woodbine Centre shopping mall.

"You have to leave the neighbourhood to get a good job," he said.

Domise said it's important that the city not gloss over the negative aspects of the Ford years.

"We don't accept that someone we like could be a bad person, racist or homophobe. But as a mature society, we have to do it. I don't understand why we have to be nice. I refuse to," he said.

Richard Feren, satirist

Richard Feren, 48, a composer and sound designer for theatre and film, penned a parody Twitter account of Ford under the handle @TOMayorFrod.

Twitter suspended the account for a day in February 2014, but reinstated it when Feren made changes to make it look less like the official Rob Ford account.

He wrote his last tweet for the account on the day Ford died and included a link to a eulogy he wrote.

Feren said Ford should be remembered as a habitual liar and a divisive figure who pitted one area of the city against another.

He said Ford, despite all the claims that he represented regular folks, was an anti-intellectual politician who routinely voted against measures that would help people, including community programs in low-income neighbourhoods, supervised injection sites and funding for arts and cultural activities.

"We need to remember the kind of discourse he encouraged and try to avoid it," he said. "He never researched anything he was trying to promote or oppose. It reminds us of how important it is to learn the details of things."

Feren said facts didn't really matter to Ford, who believed what he believed whether it was true or not. For example, he said, Ford opposed light rail lines in Toronto without knowing the exact routes they would run on, and falsely claimed that roads would be torn up for the lines.

"I'm angry that his legacy is being whitewashed," he said. "He's being held up as a hero, which he wasn't. He wasn't a great guy."

But not all political opponents offered criticism. 

Munira Abukar, council candidate

Munira Abukar, 23, a community activist who also ran unsuccessfully against Ford in Ward 2 in 2014, said at the time that she felt the community had been abandoned by Ford and his brother Doug.

She said she had seen firsthand the violence that has plagued some of the area.

But now, Abukar says the Ford family needs a grace period in which to mourn the loss of a father, husband, brother and son.

"Regardless of where you go in our community, there are always stories about Rob Ford. That is what we should cherish about him," she said.

"We never really agreed on issues. We differed on how the community should look and the services that are needed."

She said Ford should be remembered for his tenacity, and she was reluctant to criticize him now that he is dead. "There's no time for him to make amends. Let his family have some time alone and some peace."

Domise and Abukar said they are not sure if they are going to run again and will decide once council makes a decision about how to fill the vacancy. A new councillor could be elected through a byelection or council could appoint a replacement representative.