Weasels, snakes and other political animals

30 Nov

Oh, what I’d have given to eavesdrop on the negotiations over this correction in today’s Toronto Star:

Correction: This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly attributed the quote, “I’ll whoop both your asses,” to Mayor Rob Ford. The statement was actually made by his brother, Councillor Doug Ford.

It perfectly sums up the farce that Toronto’s city hall politics has become in recent weeks.

For anyone who hasn’t been following the events, city mayor Rob Ford was ousted from office on Monday over a conflict of interest ruling.

Rob Ford Toronto

Rob Ford, courtesy of West Annex News

It was thought this would prevent him from running again in a by-election, but the judge today confirmed Ford would, in fact, be able to run again in that circumstance.

He was given two weeks to leave his office, but could be granted a “stay”, meaning he wouldn’t have to leave unless he loses his appeal hearing, the first available date for which is 7 January.

In the meantime, he’s fighting a $6million libel case and is facing accusations that he broke campaign spending rules.

To those well-acquainted with Ford, the past few weeks have been eyebrow-raising. As an outsider, the events have been completely extraordinary.

UK politics are hardly devoid of bluster or colourful characters, but Ford is the one-of-a-kind love child of Eric Pickles, John Prescott and Boris Johnson, with Andrew Mitchell’s respect for authority and Malcolm Tucker’s nuanced approach to communication.

A little round-up of Ford-related fun:
  • February 2003: Ford accuses a councillor: “I know he’s a weasel and weasels and snakes belong in the zoo!” (video)
  • April 2004: Ford allegedly complains of “plant discrimination” after his poisonetta isn’t watered by staff.
  • September 2012: Rob’s councillor brother, Doug, calls the media a “bunch of pricks“.
  • November 2012: Rob Ford misses two hours of a city hall meeting to coach a kids’ football team. He then orders the head of Toronto’s transit system to supply a bus to take his team back to school. It turns out that ordinary passengers were kicked off the bus in the rain. Note: Ford also missed part of a city hall meeting on Monday – the day of the legal ruling dismissing him from office…to coach his team through a playoff match.
  • Yesterday: Rob Ford accuses a councillor of being an “outright liar” involved in a “shakedown” (north American slang for extortion), in a 20 minute verbal battle (skip to 532 for the really heated bit).

You couldn’t really make it up. As a political news geek it’s been utterly fascinating to observe and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

According to some reports, we could see a political lurch to the left, if New Democratic Party Olivia Chow replaces Ford at some point in the future. Although, strictly speaking, there aren’t any political parties in Toronto’s city council – it’s  ruled by non partisan factions. Supposedly.

Again, this is a fusty old tradition that the Fords apparently don’t have much time for.

Whatever pans out, you can bet that it’ll be entertaining. You can also bet that the “bunch of pricks” in the media will be there to put it all on record.

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2 Responses to “Weasels, snakes and other political animals”

  1. Zhu December 1, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    This guy is a bit of a joke, isn’t he?! I don’t follow Toronto politics closely (we have our own scandals in Ottawa) but he makes the headlines so often for ridiculous reasons…! Including his apparent love-hate relationship with media and journalists.

    • torontonewbie December 3, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

      Hi Zhu. It’s always nice to see a politician who speaks his/her mind, but perhaps he should exercise a tad more self-control…. He and his brother are either receiving appalling media advice or are ignoring their advisers – something tells me it’s the latter.

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