Ideas and imagination…unfettered.



Schadenfreude is the pleasure one gets from the misfortunes of another. It sounds heartless and ruthless and soulless and just plain mean. However, it is part of our human nature. Toronto—as well as a slew of American late-night talk shows—is in the grip of an incredible state of Schadenfreude perhaps more aptly called SchadenFord.

The unrelenting spiral of Toronto mayor Rob Ford has captured the imaginations of Torontonians and doyennes of late night talk shows as well as comedians south of the border. From Jon Stewart to Jimmy Kimmel and even Jay Leno, the mishaps and mishandlings of our Chief Buffoon have gone viral and made Ford—and by extension the rest of Toronto—the butt of jokes and ridicule. There seems to be a mix of horror, disgust and giddy glee as we watch the man deconstruct before our collective eyes.

There is a flipside to this supposed man of the people that has been slowly unraveling him.

Why is The Gormless One so mercilessly taking it on the chin when most others would be nothing more than a blip on the radar? Perhaps the answer can be found in the man himself. Ford has long had a reputation of being and “everyman” and that has been part of his charm (to some) and helped propel his political career. Ostensibly he represents “the little guy” and has been known for being a man of few words and more action. For example, as a city councilor he famously never used his expense account as a way of showing respect to the taxpayers. Sounds good on paper, no?

Ford_slump2Yet there is a flipside to this supposed man of the people that has been slowly unraveling him. He has famously made offensive comments about gay people (“if you’re not a drug user or gay, you won’t get AIDS, it’s that simple”); he has unapologetically flouted the rules as Chief Magistrate that the rest of are behooved to follow (driving his SUV while reading); he has been involved in conflict of interest scandals, he avoids Toronto Pride like the plague claiming he’s at the family cottage, yet manages to attend other city-sanctioned events and parades. He even recently delivered a lackluster address at a PFLAG event at City Hall then looked bored and uncomfortable as he stood in the background. The message was that he really didn’t want to be there.

The bigger picture shows a man who has divided a city by borders, boundaries and demographics and played them off one another. He has temper tantrums in council chambers and routinely insults and castigates council members who do not support his agenda. He famously stomped his feet about “subways, subways, subways” yet lacked any cogent fiscal plan to pay for transit expansion. He and his brother councilor Doug Ford routinely call out, mock and insult their opponents on their weekly radio show.

Ford Nation may have cracks in it, but Toronto will always remain solid and stalwart.

And that’s just the start. Ford has been a controversy magnet since landing in City Hall. He has called the police on journalists, he has been accused of being drunk and disorderly at events and even allegedly fondled a female city councilor at an event. He has been known to leave council meetings to coach his football team (which he has now been fired from). He has a bully mentality when dealing with others and especially when in tandem with his brother.

Finally, there is the most recent—and perhaps most serious of them all—the alleged crack-smoking video. Now it seems the seams are ripping and Ford is imploding before our very eyes. There is practically a countdown to the end of the error. It would seem that with any other person who found himself or herself in this terrible conundrum they would take the proper steps, do the right thing and deal with the issue. Not Rob Ford. He continues to be obtuse, belligerent and acting with a hubris that his constituency has had enough of.

Rob Ford is living in a hell of his own making and could have avoided this long ago, but his disdain for so many in Toronto has bought him a ticket to Palookaville as far as many Torontonians are concerned. He is reaping what he sowed and that is SchadenFord. Ford Nation may have cracks in it, but Toronto will always remain solid and stalwart.

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