Should Rob Ford Be Mayor?

Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto is likely the most well known politician in Canada. Conceivably the most well known ever.  Everyone, everywhere has heard someone make fun of Rob Ford. It is easy to do because he creates the material.   Probably not on purpose.

“If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.”  John Kenneth Galbraith may have written Rob’s epitaph.

Mr. Ford has never been popular among the intellectuals nor among the other politicians.  He is different.  There are interesting conflicts in Mr.  Ford.   Among them:

  • He talks to and pays attention to common people.   Politicians talk to and pay attention to each other.
  • He addresses details.   Other politicians avoid details and deal with fuzzy generalities.
  • Ford says what he wants to do and then tries to do it.   Others stop after the grand promise.
  • Ford is an outsider and makes no effort to change that.   Others seek to be insiders.
  • He makes no effort to be seen differently than he is.   Others manage their image carefully.
  • Ford acts, others refer it to consultants and committees.
  • He tends to create a “U” shaped distribution of the people. Many cannot stand him and many more love him.  There are almost none in the middle.  He polarizes the people. The question of whether he is “good” or not depends on what you want done.
  • If you want to see the end of  unions, the end of projects with no purpose, the end of feather-bedded counsel positions, then he is good.  If you want to provide high income and security to city employees and power to the counsel, then he is bad.

For his supporters, notice that there is a downside.  He is a weak executive.  Executives cannot afford to use their time on minutia.  Like personally helping individuals.  Or maybe he is the exception.  It did not seem to distract him from more strategic objectives.

Should we forgive the behavior or should it cause the end of him?

I believe character is important because people of character are more predictable.  Up until recently I would have thought his behavior would disqualify him forever.  Now I am conflicted.  I cannot condone drunkenness and the use of mind altering drugs.  It is a poor example and exposes him and the office to possible problems.  He should resolve this issue for his own good if nothing else.

Nonetheless, his character regarding city government, respect for the taxpayers and for their money and his efforts to make Toronto a vibrant and growing city, cannot be overlooked.  He is consistent on this.

I think people realize that governments are no longer of much assistance and it is not only in Toronto.  A recent article (you should read it) by Brit, James Delingpole in the Financial Post is interesting.  One of many statements makes it clear that Ford may in fact be good for us.

“Across the world we are governed by pygmies — spineless; intellectually and often morally corrupt; opportunistic; craven; concerned less with doing the right thing than simply preserving their electoral skins.”

“…… it’s in this context that I find myself weirdly unbothered by the Rob Ford affair.”

Perhaps we should prefer a polished, articulate, less flamboyant mayor, but would that necessarily be better for us?

We live in interesting times.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.  |  Twitter @DonShaughnessy  |  Follow by email at moneyFYI

2 Comments on “Should Rob Ford Be Mayor?

  1. G’day eh! Did you lose something from this post? I get to “On balance,” and then nothing.

    Jules Besseling, 705 740 3282 Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. ~ Sigmund Freud

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