Rob Ford is back, but has the city reached a 'plateau of unhappiness'?
'Shirtless jogger' speaks for many in his demand for answers and accountability from mayor
Only a few days back from rehab, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has already faced condemnation from fellow politicians and confrontations with citizens, signifying that some in Toronto may have reached what one expert calls a “plateau of unhappiness” with the mayor.
Dennis Pilon, associate professor of political science at York University, said that there is perhaps something significant about seeing average citizens speak out and demand answers from the mayor.
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“There’s a difference … when people who are not political, but perhaps are civically engaged, step up, that does point towards a level of unhappiness that may be new. A new plateau of unhappiness.”
Pilon said that Ford has always been a polarizing figure, so a reaction, one way or another, was always in the cards.
“I think we knew all along that this is a man that people love to hate,” he said. “There was always the potential for people to step out on the street to disparage him or to support and love him.”
Many have gone through the regular channels such as writing letters or complaining to city councillors, but have found that those methods and even more extreme tactics like public humiliation "don't seem to be working," he said.
Footage of Joe Killoran, better known as the "shirtless jogger," hurling questions at Ford during a Canada Day parade garnered a huge reaction online, and came amid taunting and heckling from other parade onlookers. But the local high school teacher said later he felt so impassioned that he had to confront the mayor, who he believes should resign.
While having sympathy for the issues Ford faces in his personal life, Killoran said that his term as mayor has been nothing short of “disgraceful.”
Andray Domise, who is running for city council in Ward 2 Etobicoke North, told Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway that he approached the mayor when he saw him surrounded by a large group of black youth singing his praises. He asked the youth why they were cheering for Ford and one responded, “Because he fights for the people.”
Upset by the answer, Domise, who is black, asked the mayor if he stood by his earlier racial slurs and his remark, made when he was a city councillor, against "hug-a-thug" youth community programs.
Domise said that Ford looked at him, said that it was “complicated,” and walked away.
“I wasn’t expecting more from him than that,” he said. “He’s never been able to answer this question directly," Domise said.
Ford, for his part, said Wednesday in an interview with CBC’s Dwight Drummond that any racist or otherwise offensive remarks he has made were a result of his alcoholism and substance abuse.
Domise said that wasn't good enough.
“It’s completely unacceptable for somebody who represents as large of a population as Mayor Ford does to say the things that he said.”