Did Toronto Elect Tony Soprano? I can tell you how this story is going to end – and it ain’t pretty.

By Ray Rivers.

BURLINGTON, ON.  May 29, 2013.  The Sopranos, a cable TV series about your average mafia boss, living and killing in New Jersey, doesn’t seem such a fantasy anymore.  In fact, the escapades of Rob Ford and his brothers would make great crime TV.   Starring Rob, Doug Ford as a former drug dealer and brother Randy as an enforcer.  His sister is a victim of gun violence in the family home and she has a coke-dealing former boyfriend who once tried to kill Rob.  Somali drug lords have made a video of Ford purportedly smoking crack – then they go underground or worse, as a homicide investigation begins.  US website gawker.com raises money to buy the ‘Crackstarter‘ video but can no longer locate the sellers. 

Were they given an offer they couldn’t refuse?  Then, Ford comes forward to vaguely deny his crack use and claim there never was a video.   Screen play writers must be wringing their hands for a chance to get at this outstanding tragic comedy.

Except it’s not funny.  The Globe and Mail’s weekend expose on the Ford family history should have frightened and disgusted rather than amused and entertained Toronto residents.  Ford seemed like a breath of fresh air to voters in that last election.  He was unconventional, and almost charming in a red-neck kind of way, carrying himself like a beardless Old St. Nick, with a bag full of promises.  And voters, sick and tired from a long garbage strike, turned to the man promising them a ‘free lunch’ – he’d lower taxes and end the ‘gravy train’. 

But there was no gravy train and there is no free lunch.  Lowering taxes?  Hello!  Doesn’t Mr. Ford understand that the price of everything always goes up?  It’s called keeping up with population growth and inflation.  We don’t see electricity, gasoline or food prices declining.  Of course, you could always gut your basic programs, as ‘Mike-the-Knife’ did to Ontario’s health care and education systems. So grow up Toronto.  You can’t have it both ways. 

We know how it ends.

Take transportation.  The GTA is not going to get out from under ever-increasing gridlock without new transit systems, and that takes money.   Burlington’s mayor is quoted as saying that his constituents support expansion – he gets it.  And so does the new Premier, Kathleen Wynn, who is taking the lead to find smarter ways of funding.  Too bad Rob Ford hasn’t put as much energy into securing public transportation as he has performing adolescent distractions.  He has ruled out everything except subways and expects somebody else to pay for them.  His court is divided for lack of leadership, so the rest of the GTA and the Province have to take the lead, in his place.

And speaking of taxes, we should understand that Toronto residents pay below average property taxes as a proportion of their real estate dollar.  So the next time some con man named Ford, in a black Cadillac SUV, is offering you a free lunch – just smile and say, no thanks, I’ve seen the Sopranos on TV.  I know how it ends.

Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat after which he decided to write and has become a  political animator. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson.

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3 comments to Did Toronto Elect Tony Soprano? I can tell you how this story is going to end – and it ain’t pretty.

  • Brenda Oliver

    A couldn’t agree more about Rob Ford and his accomplices–some shady things are happening behind the scenes.

  • Yvonne Di Tullio

    Ray, you are spot on about both the entertainment value of Rob Ford and his lack of mayoral value. I’ve not seen Sopranos….how does this end? Subject for your next article or book?

  • Navigator

    I am not a citizen of Toronto, but I like Ford. He adds a bit of colour in an otherwised dull and parochial country. We don’t have the wonders and joys of municipal corruption the Charbonneau Commission in Quebec is unvailing, so we will have make do with the Ford brothers and their supposed personal drug antics (as yet unproven), which, compared to Quebec’s proven municipal corruption, is virtually victimless

    I love this Liberal phrase “smarter ways of funding”. You can dress it up and put lipstick and rouge on it all you like, but all this “smart” stuff just comes down to spineless politicians tying to figure out a way to further pick the pockets of citizens without getting themselves voted out of office; sleight of hand, “hey look over there, isn’t that Elvis?”

    I have an idea. The current provinicial budget has a line item of $10.5 billion for the deficit, which makes it the third largest budget item after health and education. And we pay interest on that deficit (including the interest on the $585 million wasted on gas plant closures). Why don’t we just not expand public transit further for, say, 5 years until we get that nut down to a more manageable size, praying all the time that interest rates don’t double or triple?

    People who have to get around the GTA will figure it out: carpooling, getting up earlier to leave for work, moving closer to work, etc. People are very good at adapting to circumstances — just ask Londoners who lived through the Blitz. And if you really want to find “smart” money, get rid of the separate Catholic school system and have one public system — that will bring between $500 million and a billion dollars of savings annually to get that deficit down.