Rob Ford. No explanation or context necessary—we both already know what this is about. I’m not about to bore you with trivial issues like the political structure of Canada’s largest city, or analyze the Toronto mayor’s public spending model. Fuck that. The Ford fiasco has all the fixings of an HBO dramedy or Vice documentary—Somali gangbangers, belligerent drug use, political scandal—and it seems that most everyone in the country has tuned in at one point or another.
Across the globe, the media has latched on to the story (whether or not they can justify it taking up space on their newspaper or website), but who can blame them? These kinds of scandals are what readers want to read, and under similar circumstances I’d surely be staking out Toronto’s city hall too. Online media, like the aforementioned mayor, is addicted to the hits. The blizzard of press coverage has left the story tree bare, and so I’ve foraged the earth for the most stand-out coverage of the Rob Ford fiasco I could find.
“Iron Sheik, WWE legend, challenges Rob Ford to arm wrestle” (CBC News). While visiting Toronto for an event, the 71 year old retired wrestler put aside some time to visit city hall. While being carted in a wheelchair, the former heel told press that “[Ford] eats the cheeseburger and smokes crack. What kind of mayor is he… What kind of role model is he for Toronto.. I just want to know: is he a real man or no?”
The Iron Sheik challenged Rob Ford, who was not present, to an arm wrestle. He also boasted that he would put Ford in a “Camel Clutch,” his signature finishing move, which involves sitting on an opponent’s back while pulling him up by his chin. The incident may have been inspired by an arm wrestle that took place in August, which saw Ford defeating Hulk Hogan, who the Iron Sheik has had a vocal, one-sided rivalry with since retirement.
“Regina restaurant creates Rob Ford-themed burger” (Metro News). Nicky’s Café, a restaurant in Regina, Saskatchewan, has added the Crack Pepper Burger to its menu. The burger contains mushrooms, onions, cheese, and is covered in cracked black pepper. Owner Perry Mekris said the burger has become a best seller at Nicky’s and told reporters that Ford has made Toronto “a laughing stock right now around the whole world.”
“Under surveillance: Rob Ford seen urinating in public, dumping liquor bottles after Lisi meetings” (The Star). RCMP observed Ford driving in his Escalade with friend and possible drug dealer Alexander “Sandro” Lisi. At one point, the pair exited the vehicle and placed a paper bag into a garbage can. Police sifted through the garbage and found two empty bottles of vodka and two McDonald’s receipts. Police seized and photographed all the items. Afterwards, Ford was observed urinating on a tree behind his former school.
Even a Huffington Post editorial on hipster deer hunters in Alberta found space for a shot at Ford’s drug habits. “It’s obvious, though, that hipsterism as it exists in Alberta and, say, Toronto, are two solitudes. A dude with a rifle, dragging his antlered buck into a Toronto coffee shop wouldn’t be admired at all, except maybe if Mayor Rob Ford happened to be there, surreptitiously exiting the washroom with a little white bag from his pal Sandro. The mayor would be totally on side with shooting stuff, especially if it meant he could get blitzed afterwards.”
Aside from gaining the attention of the media, Rob Ford has also gained attention in the form of dubstep remixes of his speeches, a “Justin Bieber or Rob Ford” online quiz game, and an animated .gif of Ford transforming into Game of Thrones hero Hodor.
The Ford fiasco couldn’t have been resurrected at a better time. Appearing only days after the senate scandal, Ford has provided a smoke screen for Duffy and Harper. Ford has also eclipsed the pipeline deal between BC premier Christy Clark and Alberta premier Alison Redford, despite Clark’s promise during the election last summer to not allow the pipeline to run to BC’s coast. Quebec’s controversial Charter of Values, which would strip public workers of their right to religious dress, was tabled. Last week, emails from oil lobbyists surfaced, showing they had successfully delayed new climate regulations in Ottawa.
In five years, when Ford has stepped down and been forgotten, his casual drug use will most likely be forgotten outside of Toronto as well. The stories buried under Ford’s burgers and arm wrestling record are the ones that will be affecting us, and then it will be impossible to ignore them. Unless Gregor Robertson decides to take up the pipe.