a weekly blog for all interested in professional communications issues

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rob Ford bid points to serious voter discontent

It would be easy to dismiss Rob Ford as just another one of those nut bar mayoral candidates who turn up in municipal elections.

His views on immigrants and what he calls "Orientals" are nothing short of offensive. He has been caught twice now fibbing to the media about unsavoury things in his background -- most recently a drunk driving conviction in Florida.

Then there was the time he was over-refreshed as a Leafs Game in 2006 and had to be escorted out by security after accosting other spectators.

There is just one tiny detail, however.

He is the front runner for mayor of Toronto in the upcoming civic elections.

Have the good burghers of Toronto lost their minds?

For some reason, Canadians have elected quite a collection of assorted colourful individuals as their mayors -- people like Mel Lastman and Allan Lamport in Toronto, William Hawrelak in Edmonton, Jean Drapeau in Montreal and Larry O'Brien, the current mayor of Ottawa.

Maybe it is our way of seeking comic relief from all the concerned and faux-serious candidates seeking our votes in provincial and federal elections. Whatever the reason, Ford's candidacy is not very funny.

The best thing that can be said about his candidacy is that he is a nihilist who opposes everything and stands for nothing. He is the kind of candidate who comes along every so often when voter cynicism is higher than usual.

Those who practise politics for a living across Canada should be paying attention to Toronto's municipal race. The voters are trying to tell the political class something.

Over the weekend, The Toronto Star published several revealing Q and As with voters who support Ford. They talked about their discontent not just Toronto politics but all three levels of government.

Ford's candidacy is a flashpoint for widespread voter discontent throughout an overtaxed and cynical middle class. The voters are telling the political class to stick it.

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