Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
“Toronto’s Ford seeks another term” (Japan Times, January 4, 2014) seems a fair report of the embattled Mayor with the ignoble image. The recent accumulation of negative news about Rob Ford is fuel for mockery, but I don’t think the man should be mocked. In America a city mayor with an image problem as bad as Mr. Ford’s would be forced to resign as both unelectable and detrimental to his party’s election bid. I think the fact that many in the Canadian media and even on Toronto City Council are saying just that is a measure of how Americanized Canada has become. But Canadian politics work differently than American politics, so those problems carry less weight in the Great White North. The Mayor has gotten so much attention as the butt of jokes on American late-night comedy shows that I wonder if American viewers even realize that Toronto is in another country.
I am not a fan of Mr. Ford but I tend to view the media portrayal of and attack on him as more an attempt to execute a media coup of a duly elected politician than the balanced conduct of a public information business. Maybe I’m wrong but I’m enough of an old fuddy-duddy to draw a strict line between public life and private life.
It’s true that Rob Ford is neither photogenic nor an eloquent speaker. He certainly has used drugs in the past and he has appeared in public both drunk and belligerent. He has not been convicted or even charged with any crime, however. There are extreme opinions both for and against him, but his over all popularity among Torontonians remains high enough for his re-election to appear possible. I have relatives in Toronto who write to me complainingly of the Mayor’s antics, but still appreciative of his policies. His metro transit policies, city budget policies, and labor relations policies are both successful and appreciated there, and that could do the trick for him come election time.