By James Di Fiore
From the Toronto Star:
“Ford said that if Smitherman cared about Jewish Torontonians, he wouldn’t have supported new public housing in Lawrence Heights. Ford said some 5,000 Jewish residents from that neighbourhood had written him letters opposing the development.
It is statements like this one that make some people bristle at the thought of Rob Ford becoming mayor. Arguably, Ford is the most straight-talking candidate in the field, and unfortunately his honesty comes with a harsh reality – Ford doesn’t seem to mind the primitive, tribal-centric views of some of the people in this city. In fact, he relishes it.
During last night’s debate, Ford made the mind boggling assumption that immigration could be shut off for a while until Toronto’s fiscal realities were dealt with.
““We can’t even take care of our own 2.5 million,” he said. “We should take care of the people we have now before bringing in more.”
These kind of bumper sticker statements resonate with some voters. Curiously, Ford neglected to mention that this position was impossible to execute, preferring to get a smattering of applause than to actually explain how he would stop immigration. This tactic, perfected by Tea Party folks in the States, works to seduce the electorate into thinking in Utopian terms rather than realistic policy goals.
Ford’s ability to pander to a mostly white, mostly suburban audience means he is likely losing the battle to attract a more urban, multi-cultural voter in this election. The lack of depth demonstrated in his opinions on immigration can work however, feeding a segment of the electorate unconcerned with legislative realities that make it impossible for Ford to follow through on shielding Toronto from accepting possible refugees like the Tamils who arrived in British Columbia last week.
Unfortunately, Torontonians who want to be properly informed have to rely on the ineffective rebuttals by George Smitherman, Rocco Rossi and Joe Pantalone, all of whom fall short of engaging voters or properly chastising Ford for living in a dream world where the mayor’s office is actually an arm of the federal immigration department. Sarah Thomson, the candidate proven to lean farthest to the right, has become so irrelevant that most voters have tuned her out, leaving Ford the only choice for staunch conservatives in the city.
And while all candidates continue to pander to seniors and baby-boomers, once again the under 40 voter is left out in the cold. Their lack of interest in this election and overall apathy to all things political enables Ford and his team to rally ahead. Just what they are rallying towards remains to be seen.