Mayor not being taken seriously? Local politicians not getting the respect they deserve? City Hall not classy enough?
Maybe an appearance by Don Cherry can help! Maybe.
As a courtesy to our non-Canadian friends (I’m pretty sure he’s on the citizenship test now), this is Don Cherry, CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada announcer, national loudmouth, and judging by his fashion choices, either a highly repressed gay man or a clown school dropout.
Rob Ford, who took office as Toronto’s new mayor this week, chose Cherry to be the one to present him with the chain of office, along with a few choice words for the audience.
Cherry handled it with his usual grace and charm:
I’m wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything, I thought I’d get it in…I’m being ripped to shreds by the left-wing pinko newspapers out there — it’s unbelievable. One guy called me a jerk in a pink suit so I thought I’d wear that for him too today. This is what you’ll be facing, Rob, with these left-wing pinkos — they scrape the bottom of the barrel …. [Ford is] going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever seen. As far as I’m concerned you can put that in your pipe you left-wing kooks.
To be fair, this is not atypical Cherry. In fact, I’d go do far as to suggest that it would’ve been odd if he hadn’t made these remarks.
I find it interesting that someone had the forethought to call Cherry a “jerk in a pink suit” prior to the day of the inauguration. Maybe Don’s appearance has become so predictable as to be allow for such pre-emptive statements. Or maybe the commentator was psychic. Or maybe Cherry’s just going senile.
To be honest, though, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Cherry. If he wants to enjoy his super-starched autoerotic asphyxiation and attention-whore colour schemes, great. What bothers me is that he was brought in at the new mayor’s behest, demonstrating that Ford is just not capable of being the mayor of a large, diverse, and complex city.
Of course, this is nothing new. Voters had plenty of demonstrations of Ford’s uncanny ability to put people off. A few other gems from years past include:
On homeless shelters: “This is an insult to my constituents to even think about having a shelter in my ward!”
On the transgendered: “I don’t understand. Number one, I don’t understand a transgender, I don’t understand, is it a guy dressed up like a girl or a girl dressed up like a guy? And we’re funding this for, I don’t know, what does it say here? We’re giving them $3,210?”
On government housing: “People do not want government housing built in the city of Toronto. They want roads fixed, more police presence, but they don’t want more government housing that will depreciate the value of their property.”
On bike lanes: “I can’t support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”
On homosexuality and AIDS: “If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS, probably.”
On multiculturalism: “Go to the Orient, go to Hong Kong. You want to see workaholics? Those Oriental people work like dogs… they sleep beside their machines. The Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over… they’re hard, hard workers.” (on multi
On G20 protests: “I think the police were too nice. I would have had a zero tolerance approach.”
On police overtime audits: “It just makes me sick when you left-wing nut jobs like Howard Moscoe are down here trying to bash the police non-stop.”
To a couple of visitors during a hockey game: “Who the fuck do you think you are? Are you a fucking teacher? … Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?” (An intoxicated Ford was later ejected by security)
Not that I’m apologizing for him but, to a certain extent, making off-kilter remarks during live speeches is somewhat understandable. At the same time, though, they belie the attitudes of the man, his inability to measure his own words, and an acute narrowness of vision.
This narrow, sometimes nepotistic, and often rude and divisive ideology is present in most of the new mayor’s policies.
Among these is the laughable promise to cut the number of city councillors by half. This means that half of Toronto Council would have to vote themselves out of a job. Great idea, I’m sure it’ll go over really well.
Another bright idea coming from the Ford camp is the total elimination of graffiti in the city. And, of course, world peace will follow shortly thereafter.
And in a brilliant attempt to cut the waste at City Hall — Rob’s hallmark campaign promise — he’s tossing $150 million into the trash because he wants subways rather than Transit City’s partially built above-ground trains. Sure, light-rail could’ve served a much wider area at less cost, but at least Ford’s eliminating the Personal Vehicle Registration Tax to make Toronto’s roads more car-friendly (among other measures designed to put more gas-burners on the road).
Because that’s exactly what we need – more cars on city streets. And I’m saying this because I’m a pinko urbanite with an axe to grind. Obviously. As is anyone who is critical of Ford.
I might be backed by statistics, our highways might already be (literally) the busiest in the world, and it might even be plainly obvious that, despite any personal feelings on the subject, the streets can’t physically accommodate much more traffic, but why would we want to reflect on any of these things when we can just shoot our mouths off and make half-assed, undeliverable promises?
At the end of the day, I still maintain that Rob probably isn’t a bad guy. I imagine he’d be loads of fun on a Friday night accompanied by a few of pints. A number of his policies, though still too narrow and small, are nonetheless unlikely to find any opposition other than maybe Council. Good but ineffectual policy, in other words. And I respect the fact that he speaks his mind openly, even if I don’t respect what he has to say.
I also don’t consider myself part of the shrill naysayers who are equating Ford’s mayoralty to the end of the world, nor am I a police-hating, car-bashing, left-leaning pinko commie — I’m way more critical of cyclists and thought that the cops could’ve cracked more heads during the G20 protests.
I do, however, have beliefs on what makes a good mayor, and chief among these is stopping to think once in a while, not opening your mouth about every brilliant idea that pops into your head, and trying to do things to unite the city (and your own council!), not divide and insult people at every opportunity.