The power of self-mythologizers is often their ability to cast and direct others in their dramas. Here, we have Rob Ford, who has always portrayed himself as an outsider, as that guy fighting city hall, even when, as mayor, he essentially became city hall.
Mr. Ford wanted to be the interloper. He played it as if he were a guy who was in possession of truths so hard they could blow city hall apart and whom, consequently, other members of that institution wanted to bar at all costs.
Against considerable odds – actually being the son of a politician and therefore something of a political insider; being an upper-middle-class guy from an affluent suburb; being a man who quite frankly has never given the appearance of possessing of any knowledge hidden from others – Mr. Ford managed to become exactly that unwelcome, secret-wielding man this week.
As well, he has proved himself to be a man who does, indeed, seem to have a connection to a demographic not traditionally afforded representation at city hall.
Not the working class, nor those who live in the suburbs. How quickly Toronto forgets it once elected Mel Lastman, from the suburb of North York, and a truly working-class, self-made owner of Bad Boy Furniture, to be mayor.
Mr. Lastman shattered the glass ceiling long ago – the traditional suspended-panel ceiling of the suburban basement, where generations of suburban children have hidden their drugs, installed in its stead.
No, all the months of police surveillance suggest that the outliers to whom Mr. Ford seems to have a unique connection is another constituency altogether: the city’s criminals.
The mayor telephoned Sandro Lisi – a man convicted of threatening to kill his girlfriend, now charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime and conspiracy to commit extortion – 44 times in one month. That’s twice as often as I call my mum.
It’s difficult not to at least speculate that Mr. Ford, whom the police investigation reveals met Mr. Lisi repeatedly, often in out-of-the-way places, and would sometimes have plastic bags left in the back seat of his Cadillac Escalade by Mr. Lisi, was using drugs – and also that I am not a very dutiful daughter.
The plastic bag features rather prominently in the Rob Ford narrative the police documents present. This perhaps gives context to Mr. Ford’s highly impassioned, successful crusade to end the five-cent fee for plastic bags that City Council put in place before he took office.
You’d almost think this was a guy who really welcomed the sight of plastic bags and dreaded a life without lots of plastic bags in it.
Following his belated, belligerent admission this week that he has, in fact, smoked crack, Mr. Ford made it clear that he has no intention of resigning, all but used the phrase “no biggie,” and said it probably happened during one of his “drunken stupors.”
“I don’t even remember. Some of the stuff that you guys have seen me … the state I’ve been in?” he said petulantly, insinuating that, having seen him drunk – although he has what borders on an epic history of denying being drunk in public – everyone should have taken the crack-smoking as read.
The vast Ford persecution complex is labyrinthine in nature. This week, the mayor’s brother built a wing for Police Chief Bill Blair. Councillor Doug Ford demanded that Chief Blair resign because he, like most media outlets, many city councillors and the provincial government, holds what the the Ford brothers insist is a personal vendetta against the mayor.
Almost immediately following the mayor’s crack confession, city councillors of various political persuasions put forward motions designed to encourage Mr. Ford to take a leave or that would curtail his powers severely. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former ally, drafted a motion asking the province to intervene if the mayor refused.
On Thursday, after a tape was revealed showing a wildly out-of-control Mr. Ford asking to be left alone with an unnamed man long enough to kill him, the pressure to leave mounted still higher.
So, the mayor has become what he always insisted he was: the outsider people want gone. He played the guy with all the secrets who wanted to thwart the system and he and his secret are doing just that.
They do this, the self-mythologizers, if one doesn’t just walk away: They make you the enemy they need, and right now Toronto is, metaphorically, the angry girlfriend in all likelihood about to be accused of being the reason Rob Ford drinks.