Wednesday, April 6, 2016


The recent death of Rob Ford and his subsequent funeral has raised some awkward questions. Certainly Ford's death from cancer at age 46 was tragic. No person, no matter what one may think of him or her, deserves to die so young or from such a horrible disease. Cancer is a terrible disease that destroys lives and families. We grieve for the victim and commiserate with the families and friends, especially when the victim is young and leaves small children behind. The sooner we find cures, the better. We all agree on that.

But the behaviour of surviving members of the family, specifically Doug Ford in this case, creates great concerns. Consider these items:

First, when the death was announced, Doug Ford appeared visibly shaken and upset and asked for privacy for the family. Totally reasonable and appropriate for him to do that. Then the arrangements for Rob Ford's funeral became known. The former mayor would "lie in repose" for a period of time so that supporters could pay their respects. Also totally reasonable and appropriate. Then, a service would be held at St. James' Cathedral and a "celebration of life" would follow. For the third time, this is totally reasonable and appropriate.

But a strange thing began to happen. In that time period, people and publications began to pay tributes to the late mayor. Even the Toronto Star got into the act, as though trying to offer some belated apology for its aggressive reporting of Ford's time as mayor. We heard about all Rob Ford's "great accomplishments" and that he was a "man of the people". To many, it became more than a little uncomfortable to hear and read tributes which lionized a man of questionable accomplishment and even more questionable character. All of this may have all fallen into the "don't speak ill of the dead" file, and, again, it's reasonable to do this.

But, during Doug Ford's eulogy to his dead brother, the magic phrases came out. He ended by assuring one and all that the Ford's work would continue and that the so-called "respect for taxpayers" would not end.  And, just like that, Ford politics ruined what could've been a mature, newly defining moment for Ford nation. No, the grieving family was once again plunged into the petty politics it specialized in. In the "celebration of life" that followed, the political phrases continued. In doing this, Doug Ford took the unfortunate death of his beloved brother and turned it in a campaign launch. He tried to rationalize all the over-the-top rhetoric and elaborate funeral ceremonies by saying that "Rob would've wanted it that way." Thus, the Ford brand remains alive even though it's main standard bearer is dead.

Second, a news item yesterday on CTV ( a news outlet that has been somewhat sympathetic to the Fords, unlike the Star or CBC ) showed a very interesting and bizarre report. The image was of Doug Ford striding into Queen's Park to meet his old friend, Lisa McLeod, for a "coffee". Ford seemed surprised at all the media present and tried to look ingenuous and even a little coquettish. CTV made it known that Ford had alerted some media outlets that he was going to visit McLeod, so the media crowd that greeted him at Queen's Park was not unexpected. It came out in the photo op that Ford was seriously considering running in a Scarborough by-election under the Conservative banner. This caught new Conservative leader Patrick Brown by surprise and left him back-peddling rather clumsily. McLeod tried to act the innocent bystander, saying she would support her friend in whatever he would do, including running for Rob Ford's old council seat when it is declared vacant. The whole thing was a carefully orchestrated "media event" that merely kept Doug Ford's smiling face in the public's eye, and kept fanning the fires of his obvious political ambitions, among the most fiercely partisan in Ontario.

Rob Ford has been dead for only two weeks. He has been in his grave for less than that. But the circus of Ford nation continues. Grieving family? Needing privacy ? Visiting an old friend ? All these stretch the bounds of credulity.

The Fords will never change. They are well dressed hillbillies and they need to go away. They are exploiting the good will generated by the unfortunate death of a family member. They are keeping alive the myth of the Ford family brand. They should let Rob Ford truly rest in peace. Leave his widow and her two small children to get on with their lives without cringing at the buffoonery of a crazed brother and uncle who can't leave things alone. Enough of this shameful activity.

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