Tragically, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford lost his battle with cancer this morning.
As anyone who's read this blog since 2010 knows, I always hated Rob Ford.
I hated his bigotry and his simple-minded ideology of privilege masquerading as "man of the people" populism.
Rob Ford divided the City of Toronto in life, so it's not surprising that he's dividing it in his death.
Death by cancer is horrible. Death at the young age of 46 is also horrible.
Rob Ford was robbed today of life. His family, including his young children, are also terribly robbed of him, assuming of course their relationships with him were healthy and loving.
I can't even write a sentence proclaiming my sympathy for his wife
and kids without adding the caveat that I hope his death doesn't
represent the end of rumoured abuse.
Such is the enigma of Rob Ford.
As a progressive who abhorred all of Rob Ford's politics and was horrified when he won the 2010 mayoral election, it seems impossible to reflect on this moment today without being torn.
I want to show respect for the dead and sympathy to the family. They are hurting right now.
But my respect and sympathy sort of ends there. There are, no doubt, thousands of Torontonians who are also mourning his death. Just check out Twitter for examples or read Sun Media for their pathetic coverage as they attack lefties for politicizing his death while they do exactly the same thing.
Rob Ford was no man of the people. Rob Ford was a man out for himself who loved the retail side of politics and little else. His whole political schtick was a fraud. He'd show up at the apartment complexes of constituents in the inner suburbs, flash his card, pretend to listen and connect, winning many fans among the ignorant, but then head downtown to attack their interests with his votes and actions.
Many things tied together Ford Nation support behind the Ford brothers, including a truly disgusting and calculated level of homophobia, expressed through both actions and inactions, including refusing to show up at Pride Day every year he was mayor.
He spent a career attacking the rights of cyclists, spreading disrespect and promoting a sense of entitlement among motorists, which I still see often as I cycle to and from work everyday.
On cyclists' safety, Ford infamously said this: "Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day."
His fans now calling him a man of the people are simply indulging in their privilege being part of Ford Nation. I can imagine how one could think him lovable if one had never faced his irrational and ignorant hatred.
There are some who today said that Karma finally did him in. After causing so much pain to so many people, including humiliating his city on the international stage with his outlandish behaviour, he refused to admit any wrongdoing and never suffered political consequences for his actions. He filled his body with no end of garbage, from unhealthy foods, to booze, to hard drugs.
I don't believe Karma did him in. Plain old nature did. You can't recklessly abuse a body for that long and not shorten your own life. Combined with his own behaviour, Ford's family history of cancer did the rest.
It's all sad and pathetic. Of course, no person is entirely terrible. He must've had his good sides. There was something endearing about his goofy realness. I hope his soul finds peace and understanding that eluded him in life. The saddest thing about this is, dying at the age of 46, merely two years after his reign of error ended, Ford has had no time to redeem himself or learn the error of his ways. His life is cut short. He's been robbed. That's tragic.
Can I forgive Rob Ford for what he did to my city and move on? I'll sure try.
I take inspiration from one good friend who tweeted today, quoting Tony Kushner: "He was a terrible person. He died a hard death. So maybe...A queen can forgive her vanquished foe. It isn’t easy, it doesn’t count if it’s easy, it’s the hardest thing. Forgiveness. Which is maybe where love and justice finally meet. Peace, at least."