Kosher BBQ with Rob Ford? Who would’ve thought that anybody would show up after the carefully orchestrated daily bashing by the Toronto media? Despite the smear, after 4:00 p.m. this afternoon the schoolyard of the Bialik Hebrew Day School was crowded, the school’s parking was full and there were no spots left on streets around and all that despite the cloudy and rainy weather.
When I asked few of the people present why they came to the BBQ, the answers of most of them revolved around the taxes, the wasteful spending, and the out-of-touch-with-reality city politicians. Everybody was hoping that Rob Ford was the breath of fresh air that Toronto’s highest administrative position needed.
At about 4:30 Rob Ford showed up. He makes the impression of a simple and straightforward person (that was the first time I saw him in person). He totally lacks the smugness and fake empathy, which his opponents emanate in abundance.
His speech was short and up to the point, making it perfectly clear that it appeals to the reason of his audience. Curbing the city spending was the most important issue in his opinion. He condemned the secrecy under which many decisions are taken. The lax control and irresponsibility of City Hall cost Toronto’s taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. He gave as an example the overspending on new subway cars. The city authorities spent over 700 million dollars on cars made by Bombardier, while at the same time Siemens had a comparable proposal, but at the much lower price of 500 million. He also talked against the expanding of the streetcar network, which much less efficient than new subway lines, and emphasized again his intention to abolish the fair wage, which cost the city many millions of dollars every year.
His proposals were met with enthusiasm. It was interesting to observe his audience. For an “anti-immigration bigot” (as the press pictured him) the races and nationalities of people who came to support him were strikingly diverse.
Apparently, none of the major newspapers or TV networks sent reporters. Since everything that happened at the Kosher BBQ looks too perfect, here is a little controversy (Toronto Star, feel free to spin it any way you want). Because all the streets around were occupied by the cars of his supporters, Ford had to park his van near the corner of Bathurst. Shortly before 6:00 p.m. a parking policeman showed up and when he was about to ticket the van, Ford ran toward it (his running speed was impressive) and managed to solve the problem. I suppose this will qualify as another irreparable blow to his reputation (in the Star’s world).
Jokes aside, that was a great event, which showed that in Toronto we still have real thinking people who are willing to support a real thinking politician.