Sympathy, but no glory, in memory of Rob Ford

The Caribbean Camera expresses its condolences to the family of the late Rob Ford, former mayor and former city councillor here in Toronto.

In doing so, we respect the memory of his strong convictions that his destiny was to eliminate the allegedly wasteful “gravy train” that was operating in City Hall.

We did not share his view on that and on many other issues. What we do recognize was his determination to personally respond to the day-to-day complaints of individual residents.

We would have preferred to see more of his time and energy spent on addressing the major policy matters that deserve the personal attention of a mayor and that require effective leadership and bridge-building skills.

For the very reason of that preference, we are therefore concerned at some aspects of the official formalities and the public events that are being programmed to honor the memory of the former mayor. There is something distasteful in the tone and image that are being projected.

If the Ford Family decides to celebrate the life of Rob Ford and to triumph over the setback of his untimely death, that is their right. We share in their loss and extend our sympathies.

No one deserves to suffer the physical pain which he endured and to die at such a young age as Ford did. And it is always desirable to try to understand, empathize and even forgive his weaknesses.

If, however, the Fords wish to re-write the history of the ignominy of Rob Ford, to disregard the many reports and “allegations” of his fits of bullying, of racist attitudes, of obnoxious behavior, and to gloss over the causes and consequences of his self-confessed weakness for alcohol and drugs, then that is an entirely different matter.

Similarly, if they seek to engage members of the public in projecting the political brand left by Rob Ford as a highly successful and positive legacy that represents a role model for young people and for future politicians, then that is a whole-scale masquerade of their own choosing.

We do not need to join in these orchestrated “shows” which aim to promote the myth of Rob Ford as a folk hero.

In that connection, it is useful to remember that the members of City Council had to strip Ford of most of his powers at the height of his tenure as a belligerent and scandal-plagued mayor who brought unto himself and the city a prolonged period of international disrepute, shame and ridicule.

In that context, at least one important question arises. Who gave permission for the former mayor’s mortal remains to lie in state in City Hall?

It is our opinion that the achievements of the late Rob Ford do not merit this singular, official honor, which, according to one newspaper report, has only been extended on three previous occasions.

Rob Ford deserves to rest in peace, but not in glory.