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Other people heckled Rob Ford when he appeared at a parade in east-end Toronto, but Joe Killoran forever gained fame as the ‘Shirtless Jogger’ who chewed out the mayor on Canada Day. (Global News)
Other people heckled Rob Ford when he appeared at a parade in east-end Toronto, but Joe Killoran forever gained fame as the ‘Shirtless Jogger’ who chewed out the mayor on Canada Day. (Global News)

Toronto could use more Shirtless Jogger-brand outrage Add to ...

The people of Toronto are generally a moderate, undemonstrative lot, often reluctant to complain, not given to yelling in the street. Moderation is admirable, in politics as in others things, but it has a down side. Torontonians can be too passive when faced with annoyances and injustices, too slow to rouse themselves for a fight.

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Look at the Ford scandal. Despite everything that has happened over the past year, there have been few examples of open public outrage at the humiliation and turmoil Rob Ford has visited on the city. Where are the marches and demonstrations? Where is the outcry from leaders of the business, the universities or the arts?

A city like New York or Chicago would long ago have found a way to hustle a person such as Mr. Ford off the stage. In Toronto, we sigh and wait for someone to do something.

That is what makes the incident of the Shirtless Jogger so refreshing. Joe Killoran was out for a jog, stripped to the waist on a muggy day, when he came across Rob Ford, just back from rehab and walking with his brother Doug in a Canada Day parade. Mr. Killoran, a teacher of politics, law and history at Malvern Collegiate Institute, delivered a fine old rant directed straight at our misbehaving mayor.

“This guy here, he’s a joke,” he shouted. “Answer one of the million questions people have for you. You’re a corrupt, lying, racist, homophobe. Answer the people’s questions. You’re a liar. You’re a racist. You’re a disgrace.”

Moderate, it was not. When someone tried to fob him off by handing him a Ford business card, Mr. Killoran yelled: “I don’t want his card. I know what this guy’s all about.” When Doug Ford told him he needed anger management, he retorted, “I need anger management? I’m not violent. I’m not slurring people. I’m expressing my democratic opinion.”

At the suggestion that he was sent by one of the rival campaigns for mayor to heckle Mr. Ford, he pointed to his bare chest and said, “I’m out for a jog, buddy. Do I look like I’m out for a campaign? I’m an East York guy out for a jog.”

Video of the incident quickly made the Shirtless Jogger an Internet sensation, and no wonder. His outburst captured all of the built-up anger and frustration that so many people feel about the Ford saga but never get a chance to express. Mr. Ford seems to think he can come back from his break, say he has a disease and carry on much as before. That’s outrageous and Mr. Killoran was simply giving voice to that outrage.

When he says that people have lots of questions for the mayor, he is dead on. Among them, as Mr. Killoran pointed out in his tirade, was what he and his brother were doing lobbying city officials on behalf of a client of their family label-making company, a story reported in The Globe that Mr. Ford has refused to address.

Instead of addressing those questions, Doug Ford did what he usually does when someone criticizes the mayor: paint him as an enemy with ulterior motives. He called Mr. Killoran a “bad apple” who has been indoctrinating his students at Malvern into how to despise the mayor. He said the teacher was out of control and obviously needed therapy. “I wouldn’t let him teach my dog.”

Going tit for tat, he even said Mr. Killoran had been directing “racial slurs” against the mayor. Asked how anything that the teacher said could be considered racial, he gave this unusual definition of racism. “It doesn’t have to be about religion. It doesn’t have to be about race.

“You can be racist against people that eat little red apples. You can be racist against people that have a drinking problem. You can be racist against people that are too fat.” Well, that explains it.

Shirtless Jogger is right. This has become a joke, but it’s not funny any more. It’s about time for a little outrage.

Follow on Twitter: @marcusbgee

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