Here's a man who decided he was going to change things and took it upon himself to make it happen. Along the way, he was able to galvanize public opinion and create a rally cry that caused an unprecedented turnout at the polls last year. He made people realize that one person, one vote, really can make a difference.
If you saw Global News at 6:00 on New Year's Day, the guy with the scruffy red beard was me talking about Ford, being a regular guy, was able to communicate with regular people and understand where they're coming from. Aside from the now famous "gravy train" message, his biggest catchphrase is "just call me." His brother, newly minted Councillor Doug Ford, even told us not to hesitate to call if we need something, despite the fact that we don't live in his ward.
My main purpose for being there, though, was to thank him for running for Mayor and being willing to put up with all the unfounded bile and downright venom he's going to have to endure over the next 4 years.
Ok. So this probably tells you where I stand politically. I often wonder how I managed to survive the last 10 years (before making good my escape) of working amongst a number of "progressive" thinkers who were ready to eviscerate him at the drop of a hat.
One thing that struck me as a sign of how things used to be was when we were waiting in line at the levee and the line passed by a scale model of the city -- a model that only showed the city south of Bloor. Yup, anything north of Bloor or off in the hinterlands of Etobicoke or Scarborough just didn't matter. Seems to me that was basically the mantra of the city fathers (and a couple of real mothers) over the last 7 years.
In his first month in office, Mayor Ford has done what he pledged he would do. But moreover, and I think this is the big deal, he is listening to the public and reacting by dealing with them. Specifically:
- The plastic bag levy.
- At first, Ford said it was not a priority to do anything about it unless he heard otherwise. Well, he certainly did and it has become one his next items on the chopping block. I'm not going to get into a pissing match with environmentalists, most of whom have already poisoned themselves on the green kool-aid, but I've never been too terribly keen on having the government dictate that a retailer _must_ charge a fixed price for a particular commodity.
- Arts Funding
- Ford named Jeff Melanson, executive direction of Canada's national ballet school, as his special arts adviser. Melanson was willing to do it as long as Ford promised not one penny would be reduced from the budget. Ford agreed. Reading what Melanson has to say about Ford's take on the arts in the Toronto Star makes it pretty clear that Ford understands that arts funding, done right, will create a "win-win" situation. Melanson said that unlike Miller, Ford is definitely someone who can not only "talk the talk" but "walk the walk."
Wonder how many of his campaign promises Smitherman would have outright broken by now?
I'll say it again. Thank you, Mr. Ford.