Point/Counter Point: Rob Ford, Mayor of Dark City

by guest, Jacob Scheier



Toronto may very well elect a guy who would make a far better frat house president than a mayor of large multi-cultural city. At this point, I fear we could just decide this election through a chugging contest – since the results would be the same. Rob Ford guzzled the most Blue, ate the most hotdogs, got the most ignorant and angry people to vote him. It might all very well be the same result in the end.

People keep saying to me I can’t believe this guy could be our mayor. Of course, by people I mean people I tend to hang out with, who for all intents and purposes draw the border of Toronto somewhere south of Bloor Street and, not further east then the Beaches and not further west then maybe Lansdowne. As it turns out though, there are actual living, breathing humans living past those borders, who not only consider themselves Torontonians but also have the voting registration to prove it.

For me, I kind of picture places like Etobicoke as equivalent to say what lies beyond Shell Beach in the movie Dark City. If you have never heard of this movie, you might be one of those Torontonians who lives north of Bloor or west of Lansdowne, who in other words resides outside of what I like to call Torontopia. Anyway, Shell Beach is the furthest end (or I suppose one of the furthest ends) of the city in Dark City. Upon getting there though (Spoiler Alert) it is actually just water and sand painted on a wall and beyond that wall is nothing but stars and space, beyond that wall is the abyss and, beyond that wall is Rexdale, as far as I’m concerned.

That is pretty much how it is for me. And for, whether they will admit it or not, for many people I know (the kind of people who are really jazzed – and I say that word ironically because we like to be ironic in Torontopia, especially when we’re hanging out in bars on Ossington – about the new Jarvis bike lane).

Of course I am aware that real people, in real communities live in these places where Rob Ford’s base seems to be. But it’s not part of the Toronto I identify with. It’s another world entirely.

And this is the problem – I am part of the problem, in a sense. Or the problem is since there are two Torontos, there ought to be two different cities with two different mayors – at least two. Those of us who love our downtown, gay pride partying, all night art exhibiting, bike and public transport-friendly-ish city can elect someone who will nourish it (like Joe Pantalone). And those who want a suburban waspy car culture “city” can elect the appropriate mayor for that. Is my characterization of places like Rexdale ‘fair’ ? Probably not. But I don’t give a shit – that’s kinda of the point. I don’t want to be able to give a ‘fair’ description of the place, since that would involve actually going there.

Of course there are people in Rexdale who don’t fit into that waspy culture and people downtown who disdain gay pride and multiculturalism. I am willingly to participate in some kind of refugee program for such people.

Ultimately the solution to avoiding the tyranny of quasi-libertarian suburban-nites is independence for urban Toronto (Torontopia), for Toronto to be a city onto itself (Actually maybe a country onto itself). In the meantime though I am going to vote for Joe, since he is, as far as I can tell, the only candidate who actually wants to protect and nourish the kind of city I want to live in – the kind of city we (though of us within the borders of Torontopia) already live in. I understand the impulse to vote for the Anyone-but-Ford, aka Smitherman. But I can not see the city Smitherman envisions. I can see he’s really wants to be mayor but that’s not something to stand for. He could be mayor of quiet beach town painted on the wall of Dark City for all he seems to care – as long as he has the title of mayor, it seems he would be happy. Might idealists like myself be responsible for Ford winning. Well, that’s one why to look it. When Ralph Nader was accused of costing Gore the election in 2000, he said, being both sincere and ironic, that Gore was the one who had cost him the election.

Ford will win, if he wins, because those living (and I mean more psychologically than geographically) in the abyss beyond Dark City’s Shell Beach – beyond the Beaches, will have voted their values and ideals, while the rest of us could not muster more moral clarity than ‘Ford is bad.’