I recently came across a video on FB with insider footage of Rob Ford hosting a barbeque, with guest speaker Stephen Harper.
In it, Ford introduces Harper as his “new fishing partner”, to which Mr. Harper takes the stage (less fishing pole, hat and gaming shotgun).
His speech, although somewhat edited down, went like this: We have a “…great conservative political dynasty…here with the Fords. Rob is doing something very important, that needs to be done here – he is cleaning up the NDP mess…in Toronto. We started cleaning up the left wing mess federally in this area, Rob’s doing it municipally, now we have to complete the hat trick and do it provincially as well.”
The video has been posted several times on the internet, and Harper even employed his trusty lawyers to have it taken down – but to no avail.
After I had finished throwing up and popping a few ant-acids, watching this left me pondering the state of affairs in Toronto; and I realized that ever since Rob Ford took centre stage I feel, as do my friends and colleagues, that we have been unwillingly thrust into a parallel universe.
Mr. Ford is like the Death Star, looming and ominous, with his posse of bombastic storm troopers; and we, the downtown left-wingers, are fighting back, armed with reason, logic and political textbooks on loan from the public libraries.
So what are the plans of the Death Star? Well, they first deemed downtown Toronto to be on par with a red light district, rife with drug smugglers and sex addicts. So they proposed moving this red light district to Toronto Island, and thereby contain it there. Meanwhile, back at HQ, Rob Ford’s brother was planning to erect a huge ferris wheel, as part of the waterfront plan. I guess the thinking was that Toronto children could have the best of both worlds, fun on the feriss wheel, their fill of pop corn and treats, and then a little dip into the murky underbelly of Toronto nightlife – beats sex-Ed class.
Then came the KPMG report core services review, which was designed to piss off the downtowners and appeal to the suburbanites. Let’s close public libraries – we don’t want people to become too educated and therefore attempt to overthrow the Empire; cut back on arts funding and kill the Toronto Zoo – naturally, we as the mindless proletariat should not indulge in frivolous past-times, but stick to working, watching tv (preferably local political coverage with a rhetorical bent), and making babies. And of course, we should not be encouraging tourism – CLOSE EVERYTHING – so that we don’t have to put up with unwanted foreigners spending money in the city, money that will no doubt merely fund the underground movement of the suppressed agitators.
Finally, they thought it made sense to have a go at heath care; and why not target those who need services the most, namely HIV/AIDS community organizations. I mean, people with HIV are hardly contributors to society, and it’s their fault in the first place for getting infected. “Let’s clean up Toronto”, echoes the platform message of Rob Ford.
So it’s no bloody wonder that we feel that things have gone cock-eyed here in our great city. Even with the overwhelming backlash that Ford was subject to, regarding these and more proposed cut-backs – during the marathon city hall meeting where Torontonians were given an opportunity to argue against the insanity – Ford was eased back in his comfy chair making snide comments about the presenters. Unfortunately, it was a PR attempt at democracy, and in truth neither Ford nor his cohorts care a toss.
But, in September, with the possibility of not being re-elected in a few years from now, Ford decided to back down on a few fronts. HIV/AIDS organizations would need to cut back their services by 10% rather than their entire budgets being slashed. By next year, Toronto would have less affordable housing, fewer daycare spaces, libraries and a scaled back transit service. I guess we got off easy?! Right?
So, we downtowners continue on our merry way, while the Death Star looms above us, circling, watching and waiting for its opportunity to strike again.
Ford is now fishing around in federal politics with our illustrious Prime Minister, and I am sure their little garden party was not all about the spicy wings and cool brews. Something is afoot, and we should all be on guard to take up arms once again and fight for our city.