The end of Toronto’s Rob Ford experiment?

This may be a monumental week in the world of municipal politics. The Globe’s Marcus Gee referred to it as a possible turning of the tide while the National Post Political Panel posed it as an ‘unravelling’ of the Fords. Torontoist’s Hamutal Dotan penned a very good editorial on the Fords and their tactics, calling this a “particularly bad week.”

However you want to characterize it, somewhere in the midst of an embarrassing CP24 interview, allegations that the mayor gave a child the finger while breaking traffic laws, and a weird incident where the mayor’s brother gleefully stated his total ignorance of one of Canadian’s most well-known literary icons, something changed. The unlikely — and maybe underserved — sheen of respectability that has coated the mayor and his inner circle since he took office last fall may actually be wearing off.

And if I can be cynically smug for a second: of course it is. Anyone who was paying attention would have to know it could end up this way. The Pygmalion-ish notion that we could dress Councillor Rob Ford and his history of gaffes up as a Big City Mayor, one who somehow represents a new post-partisan, post-ideological era with a solid mandate for change, was always tied up in a lot of overly-optimistic bullshit.

It’s too soon to dub Toronto’s Rob Ford experiment over — this week will still likely fade into the past — but I have to think that the consistent bad press, coupled with the high-profile departure from a piece of the agenda by TTC Chair and Ford ally Karen Stintz, will ultimately end up meaning something.

It is important to remember, however, that Rob Ford is and will always be Rob Ford. The real path to change lies not in trying to convince Ford, his brother, and their small inner circle of councillors to somehow see the light on key issues, but instead to exert pressure on councillors like Stintz (or James Pasternak, who also came out against library cuts.) who like to think of themselves as more reasonable — and/or politically ambitious — and convince them that Rob Ford isn’t the guy they want to bet their political career on.

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