Ford’s victory a shame, but the world will go on

On Monday, the unthinkable happened. Rob Ford, a conservative populist running a campaign based on a very simple message of penny-pinching and transparency was elected mayor of the largest city in Canada and traditional Liberal bastion.

Currently, the “Toronto elites” that the Ford campaign railed against are packing their bags and moving to Calgary, who just elected a left-wing Muslim as mayor: the world turned upside down. While we have reservations about Ford’s character, leadership ability and ill thought-out policies, it is not the end of the world.

The realities of government will soon sink in to Ford and those around him. He will have to learn to work with a council that is not completely in the palm of his hand. This means, for once, he is going to have to treat his colleagues with a degree of respect or his agenda of reform will quickly stall.

There is no doubt that change needs to happen in the city. Toronto is on an unsustainable course. Council should not be obstructionist simply for the purpose of embarrassing Ford. They also need to work with Ford and reign in Toronto’s finances, while curbing some of the excesses of his agenda.

In particular, they should ensure any tax cuts such as the land transfer tax are paid for without blowing a hole in the city budget and ensuring that any changes to the city’s transportation plan are feasible and maximize ridership for long-term viability.

The fact is Ford would not have been elected in any other election. He rode to power on a deep well of anger directed towards the status quo. Those that mourn the election of Ford should not dismiss this election result, but understand what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again.
In the meantime, move on from the election result and don’t whine endlessly about the supposed lack of sophistication of the voters. That will guarantee defeat again in four years time. Instead, work constructively with Ford to make Toronto a better place.