Back in 2013, when word first emerged about a video allegedly showing the mayor of Toronto smoking crack, I asked News Director Martha Foley if that was worth a blog post. She thought not. It was still just a rumor and Toronto was so far away.
That was a good call, in keeping with responsible journalistic standards. Only, who knew how fast and how far “the Rob Ford story” would become a tabloid-like international mainstay of headlines and comedians?
Along the way, situations that represented a real dilemma for Mayor Ford and the city of Toronto became spectacle for the rest of the world. All the more because it played against Canada’s image as “nice but boring”.
Believe it or not, there’s even something on stage right now called Rob Ford: The Musical, which a reviewer for the National Post labeled “a surprisingly nuanced and sympathetic portrayal of Toronto’s ailing mayor“.
But much of the jeering may subside now as the story turns somber. As reported by CBC Sept 17th:
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of malignant tumour, but doctors are optimistic about treating it, according to the head of his medical team.
The disease in question is “malignant liposarcoma” which a supplemental CBC article discusses here.
Despite the turmoil associated with his time in office, Rob Ford was running for re-election in the mayoral race taking place on Oct 27. His brother Doug Ford, already a member of the Toronto City Council, will be running for mayor instead, as Rob will need to focus on treatment and survival.
In what some have quipped as a “Fordian switch“, Rob Ford will run instead for his brother Doug’s council seat.
This CBC analysis article says a Doug Ford mayoral candidacy comes with less baggage, but that Doug doesn’t connect as well to voters as his gregarious brother, Rob. (Topic summary pages on Rob Ford can be found at the National Post and the Toronto Star, among other news sites.)
The external image of Canadian politics as oh-so-dull and very polite was never truly accurate. But it is unusual to have quite this much drama attached to who’s running and why.
The scourge of cancer isn’t funny. Here in Canada, criticism about Mayor Ford has generally switched to hopes for a full recovery for a politician who is also a husband and father of two.