Rob Ford and His Continued Support

A likeness of His Worship, albeit looking a tad younger and slimmer in this photo.

Etobicoke. People in hard times. Yeah, there are good parts of this Toronto borough, but huge parts of it are run-down and filling up with down-and-outers looking to make a buck any way they can. People in hard times, closed shops and factories, low rates of literacy, and not much money to spend.

After decades of seeing their jobs moving to Mexico and the Asia-Pacific region, or having their job security thrown into torpor with the prospect of having them competing with jobs in these places, the members of Ford Nation are weary, and have lost hope in any prospect of a secure job. It is not like in times past anymore, where we lived in a work environment where the employer would take care of them. The differences in wealth have never been greater since the 1920s. The new employment strategy among the employers in Etobicoke seems to be to blame the unemployed for their unemployment.

There was, once upon a time, a way around this: Organize. Share thoughts and concerns, make demands. The ability to organize takes a certain level of self-efficacy, and not many seem to feel that they have it. It is a feeling, after all, since if illiterate workers in Argentina can do it, I am sure workers in Etobicoke can do it too. But there is a certain element of this that is emotional. If you don’t feel that you can organize successfully, you probably aren’t going to be successful.

One of many “splinter denomination” churches, this one has a national reach, with other locations in Hamilton, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and other places with lots of poverty. This one is located on Rexdale Boulevard in the heart of Ford Nation.

But that’s another thing. Today’s employee is probably just glad they have a job at all, let alone one that would grant any job security. Unstable incomes lead to unstable families, marriages, and lives. Who do you turn to?

God. And possibly Oprah.

I believe in God. But I think that the number of churches where the answer to poverty is that “if you pray to God with love in your heart, you will get what you need” is on a worrisone rise, and the one-of-a-kind churches seem to specialize in this. While apparently everyone has seemed to given up on organizing, and working as a group of concerned people in a community, I sense that some denominations tend to mimic the effects of the major media, in exacerbating feelings of aloneness and atomization, the opposite of community.

But in comes Rob Ford. Like “us”, he drinks, says anything that is on his mind, and tells off-color jokes. People in Etobicoke identify with him, almost forgetting that his father was a factory owner (he was born into money), and he too is also rich, owns a bungalow and drives an Escalade. Also, unlike most of the working class, he can afford to smoke crack. But instead, the self-appointed denizens of Ford Nation choose to see that “he has his problems” like “us”. He admits his imperfection so that it may help heal his wounds. Even Jesus had wounds, and suffered greatly, so that he may heal others.

Does anyone remember the billboard that was up for one day long the Gardiner Expressway/Highway 427 basket weave (you can’t call it a cloverleaf) that mentioned Rob Ford and ended with a quote from John 8:7? The “cast the first stone” verse is a bad choice of quote, since, well, what is the context? If I recall my Bible correctly, a woman who committed adultery faced a public death by stoning. Jesus intervened and made his famous order that any man who was there (they were all men doing the stoning) who was “without sin” cast the first stone. I take this, and I believe not altogether incorrectly, that any man present who had also not been adulterous cast the first stone. “Sin” in this context usually always means having sex when you are not supposed to. They had, by how I interpret that parable, all been sinful, and likely sinful in the same way. I can say how this is a commentary on how we as humans tend to be the most passionate accusers of other people’s sins which we have ourselves committed, but you’ll be spared. Instead, I draw your attention to the fact that the “sins” are equivalent. All people Jesus faces are guilty of the same or similar sins.

We are given the impression through this sign that I, a sinner have no right to call out a mayor who smokes crack or acts in a highly unprofessional manner in many ways. This only works if my “sins” are equivalent to Ford’s (in this case, vices of many descriptions including drugs and sex). Not all of us smoke crack or consort with prostitutes and drug dealers. I think that makes the majority of our population free of such “sins”.

Rob Ford is not Jesus. Jesus did not smoke crack, nor did Jesus find himself in the company of crack dealers. If it were, it would only to be to get them to repent their crack-dealing ways forever. Jesus was never in “a drunken stupor”. Also, unlike Jesus, most of Ford’s wounds are self-inflicted, if we are to carry the “wound” analogy. Ford has a bigger problem that can’t just be confessed away, and it goes beyond any problems “us common folk” have. These are problems involving criminals, and the police. This is a larger set of personal problems that would dwarf most of ours by orders of magnitude. And they are all problems that Rob Ford made for himself.

Rob Ford is not like us. Not like us at all.

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Rob Ford and his Enablers

Joy Green

An “Etobicoke resident”, who went by the name of Joy Green, was interviewed twice by the CBC, once for CBC Newsworld, and one more time for As It Happens on CBC Radio One. Etobicoke, a Toronto bourough which is known for shuttered factories and high crime, is known to some (like me) as “the Automotive Ghetto” for its plenitude of auto mechanics who work within a 1-kilometre radius of Rexdale Boulevard and Islington Avenue, who work in run-down garages and will  fix your car for cheap. Some of the closed shops and businesses had been converted to churches of one-of-a-kind denominations such as the “Mountain of Fire and Miracles” Ministry on Rexdale Boulevard which was formerly a car dealership. In fact, these one-of-a-kind churches are quite common around the Rexdale-Islington area. This is Ford Nation, a word they use to describe the hard-core supporters of Rob Ford, who mostly hail from Etobicoke.

It was pointed out in the CBC interview that Joy Green lives in a condo that has had numerous drug raids. In fact, one of those raids led to the infamous crack video that incriminated Ford and is currently under police possession. This would make it possibly the 320 Dixon Road complex, well-known for its high crime. It is the reason why that complex and other condos in the area command the lowest prices in the Greater Toronto Area. It is about the only place in Toronto where you can buy a condo for under $100,000.

One would find it hard to believe that a resident such as Ms. Green would support Ford, but she is unwavering.  Joy speaks with eloquence and intelligence, in fact disarmingly so. She has that “common touch” to her voice that almost makes you forget the level of literacy she seems to have, and in fact in both interviews, the CBC never tells us what she does for a living. I estimate from her eloquence that she must be a lawyer or some other kind of professional, but then what would she be doing living in one of the mosr crime-infested condos in Etobicoke? Why doesn’t she move out? In both interviews, these and other obvious contradictions were never explored.

Most of what I read in other media and news reports seem to treat the allegations against Ford as serious, and the strangeness of Ford’s refusal to resign despite his own admission of cocaine use with a raised eyebrow. The dominant theme I hear, including from Joy Green, is that he ought to “get help” and at the very least take some time off. This I don’t dispute, but that is not the whole story, and compared with other things, is the least of his worries.

The real story, the one that arose briefly over the past couple of days then got buried, was the extended journeys with Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, Ford’s “unofficial” driver, and a man now up on charges of extortion. From there, we are aware of a connection with drug dealers that go back a long way, and possibly involve Bob’s brother Doug Ford. Police had recorded observations of Ford “exchanging envelopes” between cars in a parking lot, where Lisi was involved. This is  a much darker tale than being caught smoking crack while inebriated (which for the mayor of the fourth largest city in North America, is already dark enough as it is), and it links Ford and Lisi to possible criminal activity. Lisi was not the only shady character Ford was known to hang around with. The fact that the Fords have been allowed to get away with this up until this huge scandal would establish them as skilled public manipulators. They lack polish, but they even work that to their favour.

UPDATE: I have discovered Joy Green mentioned in the UK Independent. News travels far.

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