How To Beat Ford

There can be no one left in their right mind who supports re-electing Rob Ford. I’m all for differences of political opinion. We can hold different ideas on transit, the environment, what sort of development is best for the city. However, if you want to re-elect a corrupt substance abusing serial liar with criminal ties, whose actual track record as Mayor is also terrible you either hate this city or have lost your goddamned mind.

Fighting against his re-election is not about political differences, it’s civic self defense.

Last night, another debate was held in the race to become Toronto’s next Mayor. Not that you would know by reading anything written about it afterwords. Accounts of last night’s debate focused on a wrestling worthy sideshow created by Toronto’s own tag team of tantrums, Rob and Doug Ford. The bully brothers created self serving chaos, which ensured headlines were written before the debate ever started. Why you ask? Because that’s exactly what they wanted to happen.

The only strategy Ford has left is to make the story about him. Good, bad, whatever, if the story stays focused on Ford he’s happy. It may sound ridiculous, but remember who we are dealing with here. Candidates touched on transit, jobs, leadership and other areas of valid concern to Toronto voters. How much have you heard today about any of that? See my point.

Ford relies on name recognition because it’s all he has. If this is a campaign about issues, accomplishments, or vision Ford has nothing. He doesn’t understand issues, his accomplishments are mostly in his own mind, and as for vision Stevie Wonder’s is probably better.

How to counter all that? Ignore him.

The media may not be willing to ignore him, but the other campaigns need to start. The next time he does something stupid, childish, illegal, or corrupt, ignore it. Refuse to comment. Talk about issues, do it in depth. Ask the media why they aren’t asking about those issues? Given what they’ve endured from Ford, I think candidates may be surprised at how receptive the media is to the idea.

Raise the level of debate to where he can’t compete. Make it clear this campaign is about Toronto and our future, not Ford and his antics. In short do what almost all Toronto wishes council could have done, dismiss him.

This strategy will not cost any candidate a single vote. Ford, like most populists, mainly appeals to low information voters. His slogans and sound bites are dogma to them because they’re easy to understand, and easier to remember. Ignoring his sideshow to talk about actual policy means appealing instead to intelligent, engaged voters, who as a bonus are also more likely to vote.

Once we accept we are not going to convert anyone who still supports Ford, and we’re not, we have to make sure there are more of us than there are of them. That’s where those of us without our names on the ballots come in.

Find a candidate whose platform and ideas you agree with and get involved. Sign up to volunteer, donate money, talk to people you know about your candidate, and let them know why you support them. Encourage those people to visit the candidate’s website, follow them on social media, and if you really want to help get them to volunteer too.

We have ninety days until the election. Ninety days to raise the level of debate, and the volume on ideas that deserve to be heard. Ninety days to ensure our friends, family, and colleagues take an interest in this election. Ninety days to help shape this campaign in to one that focuses on Toronto, the challenges we need to address, and the sort of city we want to live in. That’s the sort of campaign I think most would like to see, it is also one Ford can not win.

Democracy is a verb, and if we want to take our city back it is one we all need to start practicing.



  1. I disagree completely. What you are suggesting is what the other candidates are already doing, and it’s not working.

    A prime example is last night. The Fords knew the rules, like the other candidates. Only one staffer would be allowed into the debate. The Fords created a scene over this trivial rule at the entrance. Police had to be called over. Doug attacked the integrity of the event and the organizers. They broke the rules and shoved their way in. Not one candidate mentioned this disgusting behaviour in the debate or afterwards, even though many Torontonians found it appalling.

    So the next day, there’s no clip of Chow or Tory or Socknacki speaking up against this disgusting ruse, this grandstanding and bullying – just the Fords spinning their usual BS. If a candidate had the guts to call them out as liars and bullies and thugs, they would immediately gain support from a huge number of ordinary people.

    Ignoring Ford is weak and cowardly and it’s not working. It’s also dishonest – we all know the other candidates are as sick and tired of the Rob and Doug BS as we are. They should say what they feel. They look phony and plastic and political sitting on their hands while Ford swaggers around and bullies them. That’s exactly where the Fords want them.

    1. The problem is that calling out this bad behaviour time and time and time again has had no effect. The more you talk about it, the more you’re giving voice to something that is not only devoid of value but pollutes and even silences discussion about real issues. If we haven’t convinced people already that the Fords are corrupt and incompetent, we’re not going to do it now. There’s a Cherokee story called The Two Wolves that comes to mind here. It goes like this:

      A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, hatefulness, and lies. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, humbleness, kindness, friendship, generosity, faith, and truth. This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too.” The children thought about it for a minute. Then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The Cherokee elder replied: “The one you feed.”

      It’s time to stop feeding the Fords.

      1. Exactly what I was trying to say. The people who support them either don’t believe they are corrupt or don’t care. Either way we’re not changing anyone’s mind. Love the story about the wolves, makes the point simply & eloquently

    2. I hear you and feel your frustration, but the other candidates have called them out for all sorts of BS. Tory specifically did about busting in to the debate, I believe the others did too but his was the only clip that made air. Either way, the criticisms are never the story, it remains the Fords. That’s why I think they need to move on to issues & insist the media make those the story

    3. Agree. The Ford brothers are a cautionary tale of privilege, corruption and poor judgement. We should all be watching and learning from the mistake that is their administration. We do them a favour by ignoring their bad behaviour – that’s exactly what they want.

      Ford, and nearly any other right-leaning populist politician elected in Canada have soft campaign rules and a broken electoral system to thank for winning – nothing more. The intelligent, engaged voters that you’re describing are already casting more votes overall than the fans of these populist windbags who, by the way, simply buy votes through wholly unethical campaign activities (Ford Fest, handing out $20 bills at TCHC buildings, lying about council voting records, taking credit for the work of previous administrations, etc), but the votes of the intelligent majority are being split between multiple progressive candidates, allowing populists to run up the middle and win.

      Our antiquated electoral system needs to be tossed out and replaced with one that actually represents the majority of voters. Of course, that won’t happen as long as right wing governments are in power, because they stand to benefit most from the status quo.

    4. @Anonymous (is that a cherished family name?)

      I think you are missing the point. If Chow, Tory or the other candidates called out the Fords for ignoring the one staff member rule and bullying their way into the debate, they would be just be willing participants in Doug’s plan to keep media and voters distracted from looking into serious complex issues facing Toronto. (It’s the brawling hockey players who always get attention, not the quieter, smarter, strategizing players who consistently assist their team in get to the playoffs.) As it was, the ruckus Rob and Doug created getting into the debate and their false cries of political discrimination were all voters most voters heard about it that debate. The other candidates don’t need to pump oxygen in the numerous arson fires the Fords keep starting to distract everyone.

      The people who could and SHOULD have called out the Fords for ignoring the agreed debate rules were the debate organizers. They should have been firm and told Rob that he had two options: comply with the one staff member rule or withdraw from that debate.

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