Vengeance is Mine, Saith the Ford

Okay, it’s only moderately tongue-in-cheek. It is not intended to be blasphemous. (Really.) And I’m usually not this catty. But I do have that gay gene, and sometimes it needs to be expressed.

The title of this post is intended to illustrate how, in Canadian politics, we fail to have a system of checks and balances that prevents power from running away with itself. It allows a person’s pride to get the better of him. As has happened, and is happening, with Rob Ford.

But I think our mayor has slipped from being just irritating to rather insane. I thought that in civilized countries there were checks in place to prevent this, but it seems I was wrong. It seems that Mr. Ford (whom, I’ll admit, I find hard to grace with the title, “Mayor”) has slipped off his gears. One moment he’s cracking down on every fiscal cent that he can find, threatening our libraries and our police and selling off our museums and zoos. Then he’s paying the TTC chair a “hefty severance package” because he can’t stand to work with the man any more (The Star): simply because the man had the guts to disagree with him. One estimate is that this will cost the city half a million dollars (Globe and Mail). How many librarians would that keep in our libraries, Robbie? Oh, silly me. I forgot you only pretend to care. Your priorities are quite evident.

The Toronto Transit Commission (the TTC) used to be one of the best transit systems in the world. When I was young I loved travelling around the city: it was one of the reasons I didn’t get my driver’s license until in my late twenties. I moved from Toronto to Chicago: where I was overwhelmed as far as transit was concerned. Toronto has doubled in size (at least) since I was a kid: and the transit system has not kept up. So now they’re trying to build the necessary infrastructure long after it should have been done. In our economy this needs to be done cheaply and efficiently. Thus the plans came out some time ago (2007) for “Transit City”, which includes significant expansion toward the north. Like toward Jane and Finch, where I live. These are the poor places Mr. Ford has never been to. But they’re as much part of the city as the Beaches.

Anyway, Ford had planned to scrap the plans right from his first days on the job (though I don’t remember him actually talking about how much it would cost to scrap the plans during his campaign: he was too busy making up other gravy to cut). Ford’s plan would serve less than half as many commuters, and cost twice as much. Of course Robbie doesn’t want to increase taxes, so he’s seeking private planning for his efforts. This is something we’ve never had to deal with in Toronto. He’s selling off as much as he can to his rich cronies. We’ll be lucky if we have any of our city left by the time he’s through with it.

His logic?

“People want subways.” That’s what he says. Or do they? Depends on how they’re asked (The Star). I might have said so myself, until recently. Had they been built a decade or two ago: quite probably. But today? With our needs and economy? I keep looking at Chicago and thinking how well the L (short for “elevated” rail track) works for that city. There are lots of different ways to approach the answer. And I can’t help but wonder if ol’ Rob has ever even been on a subway or a bus, to be able to have a real opinion. I think the big reason he wants a subway is that it keeps the system out of sight.

So our TTC commissioner, and apparently over half of the members of City Council, decided they did not like Robbie’s suggestion. So they voted him down. They voted to follow a plan similar to the original Transit City. And Ford’s response? He sat down and pouted and had a fit… and like any child whose had his way through his whole life, he wanted to punish someone. So he fired the TTC Chair.

Now I refuse to insult my conservative friends by pretending this all stems from his political persuasion. I know conservatives who are as well developed (if misguided) as the rest of us. No, this has got to be from his personal upbringing. He’s a rich, spoiled brat. What else can I say? He’s the sterotypical rich, fat kid (though he did lose 2 pounds this week (Global)) whose only way of keeping the bullies off him was to give them presents. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it… unless he turns out to be over-zealous, uncaring and self-centred. Like Mr. Ford.) Now we’re living the adult version of that, and the rich, fat kid… is still rich and fat… and the bullies are now businesses and corporations. He’s giving them all they want, and the rest of us have to deal with the consequences. Thanks, Rob. Glad you escaped your personal childhood nightmare… and have established one for the rest of us.

This sounds too much like a Monty Python skit. If it was not my city, I would think it was. Seriously. So I think my plans to buy a house here in the city just went way on the back burner. It’ll take the people of this city years to recover from what Ford is doing to it. I’m not sure I want to be around for the results. I’m not, and I doubt I will be, one of the rich who can benefit from them.

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