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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 26 August 2013

How Rob Ford Has Changed Everything

Updating a post with the quote is kind of backwards, but that's just how I role - life's a map, not a trajectory! "For any mere mortal politician, this would probably be a death blow to their career," said Towhey. "Rob Ford isn't a mortal politician.

It's nothing new for politicians to play the populist card - Mike Harris was the former master of this.  No politician in living memory, though, has been as blatant about this as Rob Ford has.
Ford came to office on a protest vote and assumed that as a mandate.  He got elected as he was, warts and all.  The 2010 mayoralty campaign brought forward evidence of his disregard for the law, his instinct of denial when caught up in bad behaviour and his complete lack of political decorum.
His act hasn't changed much since winning.  In fact, he kept up with all of his regular pastimes (meaning football, of course - what else were you thinking?)  and continued to show disregard for the office of Chief Magistrate, even as he sits in it.  All the dramas that have played out over his one, action-packed term are business as usual for Ford.
Thing is, most people, upon assuming higher office, feel the need to hold themselves to a slightly higher standard - or at least take more of their misbehaviour behind closed doors.  Not Ford.  Ford parties in public, texts while driving his own car, gets into 911 spats over domestic issues.  Despite all the rumblings of closed-door shenanigans, what we see in public is fodder enough.
Whereas the average politician feels the need to show a bit of contrition, or at the very least course-correct when caught up in un-leaderlike behaviour, not so Ford.  He will lie, ignore or shout down any and all attempts to hold him to account.  I'm surprised nobody has yet done a remix of Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me", calling it "Anything Else?"
It's easier for Stephen Harper to get away with an utter lack of transparency, because we really have no idea what he does with his time (which is why the hockey book story is such a brilliant cover).  Ford just begs for questions about his personal conduct; when he won't answer, hungry reporters looking to feed the gossip-habit of their readers are forced to go to paparazzi-esque lengths to get their stories.
Hence, the camping out on Ford's doorstep - something which is entirely inappropriate, but unavoidable when you have a Mayor that refuses to square the public persona circle of being Mayor.
Now, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who goes to great lengths to make herself accessible to reporters and citizens, is finding protesters on her doorstep.  It's a tactic that just wasn't seen before Ford.
The Harper Conservatives are tying themselves into knots trying to portray Justin Trudeau as unleaderlike because he has smoked pot.  Nobody apart from their base is giving them any traction on this score.  Why?  Because the hypocrisy of  blasting Trudeau while continuing to support Ford is a bit too rich for the average citizen.
Poor Tim Hudak has tried to present himself as a policy-minded guy that should be taken seriously as a leader - yet, for all his efforts, he continues to be obscured by the policy-free shadow cast by Ford Nation.
Even political staff, trying to hold themselves and the offices they serve to some degree of integrity are finding the job impossible - and are making way (voluntarily or involuntarily) for others who care less about the integrity of the office than they do the standing of the man who holds it.
Rob Ford has decided the normal rules of politics don't apply to him; he doesn't need to adapt to the role of Mayor so much as the City needs to adapt to him.  Well, it looks like they're starting to, as is the rest of Canada's political chattering class.  Slowly, every politician is starting to be held to the Ford Standard, making their jobs and lives that much harder.
Outlier Ford is adapting Canadian politics to his rules; as business as usual converts to his standard, it will be interesting to see how other politicians - particularly those Conservatives that count him as both greatest asset and most likely liability - respond.

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