Toward the tail-end of George Bush’s tumultuous 8 years as commander-in-chief of the United States, I began to pick up on the rather subtle yet very widespread opinion regarding his intelligence. It’s still commonplace today in fact, when I do hear about the former president it’s usually something centered around his incompetency or malice. Whether these allegations are true or not, they are almost always met with applause and more than a few yuks.
Similar sentiments have been present since over a year ago (wow, time flies) during Rob Ford’s election campaign. Over a year has passed with Ford acting as our 64th and current mayor, and the jokes surrounding Rob still continue with full force. Poking fun
at Toronto’s very own dough-boy is admittedly very fashionable; anyone can do it (including those of us below voting age). However it’s this aspect of our communal
ridicule that parallels that which was present during Bush’s tenure. Though
we’ve all indulged in it, I fear that Rob Ford I.Q jokes are becoming the jokes
that stupid people laugh at. Can all these people really claim they are smarter
than the mayor?
Well, perhaps they can. Rob Ford has consistently demonstrated his inability for the job and his general incompetence in many fun ways. Let’s take some brief inventory, shall we… He harbors a deep-seeded hatred of cyclists and bike lanes, old people, people not from Etobicoke, 911 dispatchers, and even fellow Leaf fans! (albeit while
drunk). I won’t go into detail here, but his proposed budget for 2012 would
close swimming pools and homeless shelters, cut programs for student nutrition,
AIDS prevention and arts, and raise property taxes by 2.5% while increasing TTC
fares by an extra dime. This is all to say nothing about his conduct as a football
This last point is the one that brings to the “Ford Freeze” we are experiencing today. During his campaign last year, the Toronto Star published an article regarding some complaints about his behaviour as a football coach after his confrontation with a young player over some poor performance on the field. This prompted the Ford freeze – the
specific order by Mayor Rob Ford that all official notices and pronouncements
from his office not be provided to the Toronto Star. This ban has been in place for over a year now, as the mayor has said it will not lift until the Star runs an apology
above the fold on page 1 – “I don’t talk to the Star till you
guys apologize. You guys (are) liars.”
As John Honderich correctly notes in his December 1st column, “Mayor Ford has
no obligation to speak to or being interviewed by the Star”. He is, however,
obliged to ensure that public press releases and notifications from his office
are indeed public. Members of the press gallery were briefed about arts funding
recently in private, and were specifically asked to not tell the Star about it.
Other journalists have thankfully responded to the Ford freeze. David Nickle,
president of the city hall press gallery made the point that, “the offices of
the mayor and members of council are public, taxpayer-funded institutions” and
that, “To exclude any gallery member … is an abuse of process and office.” The
right to free speech and the right to gather information are both apparently
guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms! (Google it).
The effort is also fundamentally futile. In this day and age, with technology and the
internet as a means of communication, nothing stays hidden for long. Just as it
goes with facebook – once it’s on the internet, it belongs to everyone. The
“freeze” is totalitarian in nature and displays the sickly elements of
propaganda present in communist regimes. This is ironic given Mayor Ford’s
contempt for all those commie pinkos out there.
So what should the Star do? One option would be to do nothing, as there are evidently ways to work around the freeze. But shouldn’t there be a reaction to something so
morally and, some would argue, legally unjust?
Well, as it turns out, there is. The Star has recently filed a complaint with the city’s
integrity commissioner to ask for a ruling. This writer personally never even
knew we had an integrity commissioner, but upon further investigation, he/she
will launch an investigation if the allegations are judged to be in violation
of the city’s Code of Ethics. The Mayor’s office has not responded to a request
for comment on this matter. We can only hope in the coming weeks that Mayor
Ford will give us once again something to laugh about.