Friday, March 1, 2013



Most Torontonians, I am sure, are bored and irritated by Mayor Ford's football charity soap opera  and his daily imitations of a dinosaur sinking in a swamp  on too many issues.
And his brother is no help. Heaven help the family if he is supposed to be the bright one. Heaven help the Ford Nation if they don't get some common sense advice before they shoot off their mouths.
The mayor may not be listening to his staff at all. Which is stupid, considering their salaries. They're like the crew of a crippled cruise ship just running around and around and wondering wotinhell the captain is going to do next.
The captain should go to his cabin, look in the mirror, and in the words of the grand old comic strip, Pogo, say he has looked in the mirror "and the enemy is us."
I think it is nice that Ford is helping poor high schoolers with football equipment. I suspect that part of that is triggered by his own spotty football career, where his so-called university experience seems to be invented or exaggerated. Yet no doubt he means well in this charity and should be encouraged.
But for heaven's sake, don't deliver yourself up to the fists and scorching tonsils of your opponents by sending out personal letters requesting contributions. Let someone do it in your name. There should be no suggestion of "buying" influence with the city by giving to the mayor's cause.
 Ironically, as a municipal lawyer pointed out to me the other day, if Ford was sending out requests for donations to the United Way, that would be OK with the left, but not for anything that has Ford's name on it, no matter how genuine it is as a charity.
The latest "outrage" is contrived, as usual.
For example, of the latest two football charity solicitation letters that the Star has grabbed on to with the ferocity of a drowning man with a life jacket, one upon a little analysis is feeble when it suggests buying influence.
Brian Ashton, president of the Canadian National Exhibition, talks vaguely about being pressured by the Ford letter that he got. And the media point out that Ashton has to get elected and that the CNE board contains councillors and is intertwined with the city.
Yes but....
Now Ashton is my friend.  and I have written for years that he should have been the head of Toronto, whether as Metro chairman or mayor. I think, and have written, and told him, that he would be a better mayor than Ford. He was a veteran councillor who just retired and the idea that he would be intimidated by anyone (other than his wife and daughter) is just nonsense.
Now Ashton is diplomatic generally about Ford but critical privately, mainly along the lines of why does this guy keep shooting himself in his foot before he shoves it in his mouth.  He had a great quip to me when Ford was caught using his cellphone while he was driving that at least now we know he can read. (Maybe that was off the record but I've already written it at least once.)
Let's eliminate this crap about Ashton, the CNE president, somehow being intimidated, or something, by a letter from the mayor asking for funds.  And I write as someone who has been CNE president and is still on the board.
 First of all, Ashton is in the final year of being president and faces no election. Second, the annual fair is separating officially from city council on April 1. The deal is done. Third, Ford was a director of the CNE when I was president, and as mayor  is automatically a member of the board. He has never come to a meeting as mayor, so he obviously is not very interested in one of the world's largest annual fairs. Ford was invited to open the CNE last year and instead sent a councillor to represent him. (The directors were not amused.)
An ally of Ford's, Deputy Mayor Doug Holday, has long been a CNE vice president and now diligent director and is a stalwart voice on council about CNE maters.
In the past, the fair has had trouble just getting any mayor to notice the Ex. Now it is separating formally and the annual profit will no longer go to city taxpayers, I for one intend to call for the mayor and his staff not to be freeloaders but pay their way and to keep their views about the Ex to themselves.

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