Can anything stop Rob Ford?
A new poll suggests he has the support of 32 per cent of voters, leaving behind second-place George Smitherman, who has 21 per cent, and drawing streets ahead of Sarah Thomson (10 per cent), Joe Pantalone (9) and Rocco Rossi (7).
The Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Newstalk1010, Global News and the National Post confirms what those with their ear to the ground have been saying for weeks: Ford has momentum. Last winter, polls showed him well behind Mr. Smitherman. In June, the two were neck in neck. Now, if the new poll is accurate (the sample is on the small side), he is a solid 11 points ahead.
What is most amazing - appalling might be a better word - is that the poll was taken after a week of controversy around his bid for the mayoralty.
To Mr. Ford's growing ranks of supporters, it doesn't seem to matter that he as much as called for a halt to immigration to Canada's most multicultural city. It doesn't seem to matter that the man who bills himself as a plain-spoken straight shooter was evasive about a 1999 pot and drunk-driving bust. It doesn't seem to matter that a candidate who calls City Hall corrupt has just been called to account for breaking integrity rules.
Many Torontonians seem determined to overlook Mr. Ford's foibles. Theirs is an almost willful blindness: I like the sound of this guy, they seem to say, and I don't really care what he says or does - as long as he puts the boot in.
Call them the kick-in-the-pants people. They are sick and tired of waste and mismanagement at the city. They were infuriated by last summer's strike by city workers. They want passionately to deliver a swift one to the trouser seat of exiting Mayor David Miller. Who better to deliver it for them than the burly football coach who is running to replace him?
Some of the same people who howled for the head of Toronto Transit Commission chair Adam Giambrone - an unmarried man who committed the grievous sin of stepping out on his girlfriend - now seem perfectly ready to forgive Mr. Ford for breaking the law and then letting it slip his mind.
They shrug (or even cheer) when Mr. Ford makes his remarks about limiting newcomers, something that, if he had the power to do, would choke off a critical source of the city's growth and dynamism. They shrug again when he grossly exaggerates the numbers of expected immigrants to make his point.
Never mind that he has promised both to cut taxes and to build new costly subway lines, a howling contradiction from a guy who claims he wants to run Toronto like an efficient private business. Never mind that he refused to pay the slightest heed to the city's integrity commissioner when she rapped him on the knuckles for soliciting funds for his football charity using his position and letterhead as a councillor.
But - wake up, Toronto - these things matter. The integrity rule he broke was designed explicitly to prevent the very corruption he condemns. Without it, developers and other seekers of influence could get around the limits on campaign contributions by donating to politicians' pet causes.
As for the drug bust, can you really trust a man who says it "totally slipped my mind" that he was once arrested by a Florida cop with a joint in his pocket? Would you ever forget if that happened to you?