Rob Ford. A name unknown to even Americans who would consider themselves at least a little worldly, it seems that Canada – a nation heretofore mostly known for hockey, politeness, generosity, and universal healthcare – has suffered a discrete and palpable blow to its reputation because of his antics (at least in pop media circles). The mayor of Toronto’s antics has, seemingly, captured the full attention and curiosity of media in the United States as well as the world’s. The government of Canada’s extremely generous matching of its citizens’ donations to those in the Philippines affected by the horrors of Typhoon Haiyan did nothing to curb the Rob Ford mania afflicting the American media.
Americans may wonder incredulously how Rob Ford has even remained in power, considering that his penchant for controversy (to put it mildly) is nothing new. However, as is the case in most things presented in mass media, the situation is more complicated and nuanced that a cursor analysis presents. Rob Ford has had his share of accomplishments that shed light on his continuing political presence. Mayor Ford cut budgets through a variety of creative measures, revoked certain taxes and assorted penalties, and negotiated private sanitation contracts with powerful unions – measures that saved Toronto residents a great deal of money. It is for these reasons, long with his bizarre brand of populism that has earned the loyalty of the “Ford Nation.” (Which, admittedly, is a term of his own creation.) Certainly, none of this excuses Rob Ford’s outrageous and controversial behavior, but it does place it in context.
If there’s anything for the American reader to take away from the Rob Ford saga (such as it is), it’s this: as with Rob Ford and Canada, there is always more than meets the eye.