Sheldon Kirshner

Good riddance

Has there ever been a Toronto mayor in recent history like Rob Ford? I doubt it. Ford was a drunkard, a drug addict, a racist and an antisemite who besmirched and disgraced our fair cosmopolitan city.

He was not even fit to be a dog catcher.

After yesterday’s municipal election, during which Ford’s equally unpalatable brother Doug replaced him as candidate for mayor and resoundingly lost to John Tory by a margin of 64,000 votes, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Or as the premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, exclaimed, “Hallelujah.”

I would dare say that Rob Ford, clownish and blustery, was Toronto’s worst mayor in memory. From almost the moment he was elected in 2010, he was an embarrassment, to himself and the city.

Over the course of four years, Ford, in inebriated moments, reportedly referred to Jews as “kikes,” blacks as “niggers,” Italians as “dagos” and Pakistanis as “Pakis.”

He was an equal opportunity, old school bigot who created deep divisions and took us back to the bad old days when Toronto was a bastion of Anglo-Saxon prejudice and when racism was a perfectly acceptable vice in Canadian society.

True, Ford had a few good ideas to improve the city, but his dysfuncti0nal personality got in the way of his grandiose plans.

By last November, when Ford had been finally stripped of most of his powers by an indignant city council, I was thoroughly fed up with him and his antics.

Newspaper and video accounts had already confirmed that he was a crack cocaine user and an out-of-control alcoholic who consorted with very questionable characters, one of whom was identified as an underworld figure.

In typical fashion, Ford vehemently denied the accusations levelled against him. But this past April, he finally came clean, admitting he had an addiction problem and disclosing that he was taking a break to attend a rehabilitation facility.

Last month, he dropped out of the mayoralty race altogether, saying he had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Not being able to contest the race himself, Rob handed the baton to his brother, Doug, his chief advisor and a city councillor.

Compared to Rob, Doug Ford seemed sober and reasonably responsible. But recently, at a forum sponsored by a major Canadian Jewish advocacy group, he showed us his true Fordian colors.

When a Jewish candidate for office claimed that Rob, during one of his drunken stupors caught on tape, had described Jews as “fucking kikes,” Doug conceded that his characterization had been “unacceptable and inexcusable.”

But in defending the “Ford nation” against accusations of antisemitism, Doug launched into a bizarre spiel rife with racist stereotypes: “You know something, my doctor, my Jewish doctor, my Jewish dentist, my Jewish lawyer, my Jewish accountant…” he sputtered in the face of cat calls from the audience. Finishing his sentence, he cooed, “Our family has the utmost respect for the Jewish community.”

To underline the point that he was pro-Jewish, Doug, in an interview with The Toronto Star, claimed that his wife, Karla, is Jewish and “comes from Jewish heritage.” Karla is definitely not Jewish, and in fact, Karla’s Eastern European ancestors were Orthodox Christians.

To say that Doug was crassly pandering to the Jewish electorate would be an understatement. Judging by the results of yesterday’s election, Jewish voters categorically rejected Ford’s candidacy, though Rob Ford was reelected to council. Across Toronto, Tory captured 40 percent of the vote, with Ford taking second place after winning close to 34 percent of the votes.

After four disastrous years of Ford misrule, Toronto can finally make a fresh start and rebuild.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,