It’s amazing to observe how much negative attention Rob Ford gets from the media in Toronto. The man who leads the Toronto mayoral race has been consistently attacked by most major papers in the city. The other candidates for the post have also swarmed against him, often forgetting their own political platforms. In a way, that’s good: if several city politicians consider more important the joint fight against him than explaining their ideas to the public, that shows his strength.
I don’t remember such unanimous hostility since the mayoral race years ago when Jack Layton was exposed as having lived in subsidized housing while being paid over $40,000 as a city councillor (although in his case the hostility was well deserved).
Of course, having pre-election discussions is a good thing, at least in theory. They can help voters choose the best candidate for the top city job. However, in this case one can’t help but notice that Ford’s opponents never go against him on the major problems, which are important to Toronto’s future.
They usually try to discredit him on some marginal issues by twisting his words or using less than honest means.
Early this August Ford was under pressure about his stance on gay marriage. It was like playing again the confrontation on the same topic between Perez Hilton and Miss California at the Miss America pageant. While Miss California’s chances were badly hurt by her opinion, it doesn’t seem that Ford suffered the same damage. It’s no wonder: the city mayoral race is not a shallow beauty pageant. Voters are much more interested what the mayor is going to do for them than in his opinion about the gay marriage.
Let’s face it, even though Smitherman made a big deal out of it, the issue of gay marriage is completely out of the jurisdiction of the Toronto mayor. The most progressive gay activist and the most conservative Christian if elected can do for that issue exactly the same thing, which is: NOTHING. Everybody involved in that quarrel knows that, but they will never miss the opportunity to smear Ford.
Then came a mean blow below the belt. Somebody placed in Wikipedia’s article about Ford links to a blog, which appeared to be his personal site, but was actually a crude satire designed to discredit him. This could have been considered a funny joke, if we were not in a mayoral campaign, but now it is just a pathetic attempt to bring down a politician. That site was shut down after a cease and desist request sent by Ford’s lawyers.
However, the interesting thing is that the Wikipedia reader, who spotted the links, traced the IP records of the person who added them (Wikipedia keeps public records about everybody who edits their pages). The IP address belonged to the Toronto Star’s corporate parent. Of course, the red Star fiercely denies that anybody of its staff was responsible for that, they stated that the person may have belonged to another Star-owned publication. But what difference does that make? Whether it’s the Star itself or another publication from their happy lefty family or a rogue reporter, the intention was the same.
Next was the pot issue. Apparently, Ford has been charged in 1999 in Florida for marijuana possession and failing to provide a breath sampling (he didn’t get any criminal record over this). Even Toronto Sun jumped on this one. The usual suspects swarmed up again and ironically, none of the progressive candidates found the strength to ignore this, although some of them don’t agree with the official anti-drug policy. They have expressed their opinions on decriminalizing marijuana before, but in this case the goal is to paint Ford in the worst possible light.
Again, a poll among potential voters showed that this revelation would not affect his stand in the race: 83% firmly stated that, as opposed to 17% who expect negative effect (h/t Blazing Cat Fur).
But the main attack in the last few days was against Ford’s remarks on immigration. The lefties felt that here they could deliver a major blow against him and paint him as a racist and bigot.
During a candidates’ debate on August 17, Ford said about Toronto:
“We can’t even deal with the 2.5 million people. How are we going to welcome another million people in? It is going to be chaotic. We can’t even deal with the chaos we have now. I think we have to say enough’s enough.”
The others jumped on him immediately. Smitherman said that Ford’s campaign was beyond repair and he just has to slink away. Rossi declared him unfit to be a mayor. Pantalone accused him of showing total disregard for the immigrants. Thomson said he was playing on people’s fears without offering any solutions. And none of them asked him to explain his position in depth.
Instead of turning this into a serious discussion about the problems of immigration, they chose to take cheap shots at Ford and remained at the level of the usual shallow clichés.
Of course, we can’t blame them: no Canadian politician dares to touch the immigration issue out of fear of offending some of the sacred multicultural dogmas.
What Ford meant (and he explained it the next day) was that we cannot increase or even continue the immigration to Toronto, unless we are economically prepared to do so.
Do we have the infrastructure to facilitate the life of Toronto’s residents? The public transportation, crippled by lack of funding and greedy unions, is beyond pathetic. The roads and the highways are constantly congested and it takes longer and longer time for commuters to reach their destination. Last year Mayor Miller allowed his union buddies to bury the city for weeks under piles of garbage, so that they can strike over a benefit, which over 90% of the common working people never get.
The flood of new immigrants and refugees is directed mostly toward Toronto and the other large Canadian cities. Many of the refugees are not allowed to work in the beginning or can’t find jobs due to lack of work or language skills. They eventually end up on welfare (paid by the province and the city) and still are entitled to free health and dental care, public housing and other benefits.
Very large number of the legitimate immigrants can’t find jobs as well. They are led to believe that their skills are sought after in Canada. However, once they are here, they often find out that their credentials are not recognized or they need to get Canadian experience. Many of them end up on welfare as well.
The Torontonians are suffocating under that financial burden. Of course, most of those who support free loading for all don’t pay any taxes and they don’t care anyway.
How many times should we increase the property taxes? Maybe we just have to start confiscating houses, divide the rooms in the middle with thin walls (like in the Soviet Union) and populate them with the “less fortunate.” McGuinty’s government just introduced the HST by combining two taxes. Whoever comes after them will probably have to add a third tax to it to cover the insane expenses and call it Super-HST.
And what about the federal government? They are the people who determine the national immigration policy, yet provide very little financial help to the local governments. Why don’t they distribute the immigrants equally among the different provinces? Or if they want them only in the big cities why don’t they provide the subsidies for that? Or why not simply limit the number of immigrants until Canada is financially prepared to absorb more of them?
If those issues are not addressed, Toronto’s taxpayers may choose to move to other places, which will leave the city with a large welfare underclass and devastated infrastructure, very much like some large American cities. Have you been to downtown Detroit recently?
These are issues that the future mayor of Toronto must face, it’s a matter of life and death to the city. It is a total disgrace that when Ford is trying to raise the immigration problem, they try to silence him as a “racist.” It’s much easier to bury your head in the sand and discuss gay marriage, pot use or bicycle paths as some kind of apocalyptic questions.
The mayoral race is still running and maybe eventually all candidates will turn to discussing real problems. However, don’t bet on it. They will try to avoid them, unless Ford keeps pushing the important issues into the discussion. We will see…