Donald Trump is Toronto’s Rob Ford on Steroids

Photo by Shaun Merritt | CC BY 2.0

It’s not just the US which has had its “Howard Beale moment”.  Well before Donald Trump became president, there was a similar populist uprising which took place north of the 49th parallel in Toronto, Canada’s largest city.  Despite generally being perceived as a liberal city, the 2010 Toronto mayoral election (during which Rob Ford was elected), exposed political fault lines in the city akin to those reflected in America’s 2016 election results.  Serving as a largely unknown local councilor, Rob Ford was shockingly elected mayor with a healthy 47 per cent of the vote, most of it coming from the less affluent suburbs (comparable to America’s “flyover country”), against two more traditional – and liberal – candidates (provincial MPP, George Smitherman and Toronto city councilor Joe Patalone, both of whom retained support amongst the city’s well-heeled downtown establishment, comparable politically to America’s bi-coastal blue states).   Despite his multifold scandals, larger-than-life character flaws, and the fact that he was a perpetual global laughing stock during his time wearing the gold chains of his office, Rob Ford largely retained the support of his base throughout his tenure as mayor of Toronto.  Indeed, had cancer not intervened, it is highly possible that he would have won another term. The reasons for that in themselves may well have implications for those hope that the Donald Trump presidency is…

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