Earlier today, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford filed his papers to officially put himself on the ballot for another term as the city’s chief magistrate when mayoral elections are held in October.
Only six weeks ago, Ford’s indiscretions went around the globe, making him the laughing stock of the free world. Yet even at the peak of his humiliation, a Sun Media poll showed that his approval rating in Toronto remained respectable (42 per cent) and in an election held today he’d win 33 per cent of the votes.
Polls like this make Ford-haters apoplectic and, more importantly, blind to the reasons why, I believe, the man will get re-elected this fall. (Mark it on your calendar and congratulate me when it happens.) Ford’s popularity is no surprise to business owners who have to deal with government agencies who make them feel like a disrespected outsiders – especially if you’re a contractor. There is no gravy train for us.
When I was a framer, Local 183 of the Brotherhood of Something or Other came to town and forced me to unionize. My piecework pay remained the same. In fact, everything remained the same except that every two weeks the union boss would come around to take his cut. The union very quickly became another mouth to feed. Even though I was a “member,” I was an outsider to Local 183, useful only for my ability to pay the salaries of its employees.What make it all the more galling was the pretending. The guy that came to collect the union dues was full of public relations speak about how valuable the union was to me and how much it was going to help me secure my future. And I had to nod and smile as I handed over the money lest I be labeled a dissenter.
Government workers enjoy public service salaries and almost total job security from a deep well of funding provided by us, the outsiders. We see them when they come to our jobsites to check our paperwork and our green-tag boots and shut us down if we don’t comply.
Rob Ford’s fiscal fanaticism and crude behavior makes him the mortal enemy of the “in-crowd.” The city’s broken, hard-bitten, feral citizens recognize him as one of their own somehow snuck inside, now tearing up the privileged, hard-packed ground and mocking the entitled class with his vulgarity.
The insiders will kill Rob Ford eventually (hopefully, only politically) but while he is still breathing, you should support him because he is one of us. Hold your nose if you have to.