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Rob Ford's Toronto

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Toronto Star: Mayor Rob Ford made repair request at family firm, city said he didn’t

Mayor Rob Ford, who is under fire for using his office to help his football teams, personally asked top city officials to approve drainage and road repairs outside his family's company in time for its 50th anniversary celebration — but when asked who had made the request, the city said it was a “private individual,” not the mayor or Councillor Doug Ford.

A member of Ford’s staff asked city transportation staff to visit the road beside the Deco Labels and Tags building in mid-July. A superintendent then held a site meeting with Rob Ford himself and his special assistant Chris Fickel, acting general manager of transportation John Mende said Thursday.

Later in the month, Ford asked Mende and deputy city manager John Livey to meet with him for the sole purpose of getting an update on the status of the Greensboro Dr. project, Mende said. The project — which included repairs to potholes and to drainage culverts — was completed in mid-August at a cost to the city of $7,000 to $10,000.
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Asked if special treatment had been given to the Ford family, Noehammer said in August, “No special treatment has been given here. I think that may be a question that some people would ask. But as far as I’ve been able to determine, everything is above board here.”

But even Ford’s council allies believe he should not have made the request himself.

“I think the mayor needs to separate his mayoral duties and his city duties from his personal and business relationships,” said public works chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

Councillor Adam Vaughan, an ardent critic, directly accused Ford of wrongdoing.

“This is a clear-cut example of using one’s office to gain preferential treatment for private interests. He’s using his office to benefit his company. Period. There is no grey area on that. It is not allowed. It’s so wrong,” Vaughan said.
 
The thing that is troubling about this newest mini-scandal is that Ford personally asked for this work to be done for his own business. This is yet another conflict of interest.

The work that was done was fine and standard for the city to do, and might have been warranted - but the way in which it was done was 100% wrong.
 
^that behaviour is actually more commonly known as "influence peddling" and is proscribed by the Criminal Code of Canada, s. 121(1) "Frauds on the government".
 
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I, unfortunately, agree with all of that, except that I don't. While I think anyone who voted for Rob Ford should be sterilized and stripped of their voting rights, I also wouldn't like the precedent it sets. Bottom line is that Canada, on the whole, has too many stupid and/or evil people. There's no real solution, because any such solution runs the risk of being no better (and actually quite a lot worse) than the problems its purports to solve.

I am not suggesting that we should dismantle democracy, but I increasingly feel that democracy is more of a liability than a blessing in a lot of circumstances. At best, we have a rudderless governmental system that can't get anything done at a time when things need to happen quickly and decisively (NIMBYs standing in the way of transit projects as our region gets mired in congestion being a good local example, but it can be even more dire); at worst, democracy actually enables the kind of totalitarianism and autocracy it was designed to circumvent as ignorant voters elect leaders who then use the votes they received as an excuse to manipulate laws and power in their favour.

I think we can live in a world with less democracy because we already have good examples of major decisions and policies that are made without any democratic input. The decision to raise or lower interest rates, for example, has a profound effect on the welfare of individual people but they have zero say in appointing Bank of Canada governors (nor should they). Also countries like Hong Kong show that civil liberties can be guaranteed by a non-democratic government while countries like India show that a democracy is hardly a guarantee of those same civil rights.

One the one hand I want to agree with you, Hipster. But on the other, saying that common people lack common sense just smacks of precious elitism. Who gets to judge who is common, after all?

I wouldn't say it's elitism in this case. It's not that I dislike Rob Ford because he's fat and uncooth and drives an SUV. It's that I dislike Rob Ford because he breaks the law! Actually, my opinion on this shouldn't count at all. Unfortunately, a large segment of the electorate can't see this (that when generally-agreed upon laws are broken their opinion doesn't count and their vote shouldn't count) and that's why we have to rely on other mechanisms than the ballot box for removing law-breaking leaders from office.
 
I am not suggesting that we should dismantle democracy, but I increasingly feel that democracy is more of a liability than a blessing in a lot of circumstances. At best, we have a rudderless governmental system that can't get anything done at a time when things need to happen quickly and decisively (NIMBYs standing in the way of transit projects as our region gets mired in congestion being a good local example, but it can be even more dire); at worst, democracy actually enables the kind of totalitarianism and autocracy it was designed to circumvent as ignorant voters elect leaders who then use the votes they received as an excuse to manipulate laws and power in their favour.

I bet some people were thinking exactly this as the Spadina expressway was put off due to NIMBYs.

I agree with the general sentiment, but history is overflowing with examples where local people used the authority they acquired through democracy to better their neighbourhoods, cities, and countries, by opposing or rallying behind certain developments.

In fact, the real drama with Rob Ford is that we don't have enough democracy. Etobicoke should be allowed to have Rob Ford, and Toronto proper should be allowed to have a sensible leader. If locals were more empowered to change their neighbourhoods and their 'real' city we would see incredible amounts of transit expansion downtown, grade separated bike lanes, widened sidewalks, etc.

Democracy is not the problem when you are letting the French vote for the British Prime Minister.
 
^I agree with you that the problem is not democracy. I happen to think the problem is that a sufficient number of people who exercise their democratic rights tend to be stupid and/or evil.

But, more to the point, if you dissect your amalgamation example, you are still left with the fact that amalgamation resulted from the democratic election of Mike Harris.

I agree with HipsterDuck's point which, if I may paraphrase, is that democracy can yield bad results unless it is properly bound by (1) a constitution that protects civil rights and (2) the rule of law. As we have seen (and continue to see), constitutions and the rule of law can be ground down quite rapidly by a determined government.
 
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If "Bob's Burgers and Birdhouses" asked for a little road maintenance in front of their establishment for an upcoming 50th anniversary celebration party would they be denied, and if so why? Because they are not the Mayor?

While I have quill in hand I'd like to suggest that the contempt some folks here are exhibiting for the Mayor and Democracy in general is rather comical. Do you not understand that the general public, you know the people who pay taxes too, don't agree with your take on city politics. They love Rob Ford because he is not you and the more you try to save them the more obdurate their opinions become. The votes available from the Ford haters on this thread are less than miniscule compared to the general public. If you wish to change this obvious dynamic I suggest you abandon the scornful attitude you seem to thrive on and start to make some sense that other people can distinguish from hatefull diatribe.
 
So you're using gentle condescension to piously condemn people whom you happen to you disagree with - check. Comedy indeed.

I'd love to ask what your operating definition of that crisp phrase "the general public" is, but I suspect it's based on somewhat torturous logic.
 
spider:

Funny one should talk about contempt and hateful diatribe - please remind me who his worship invited to speak on council floor - the seat of democracy, I might add - on the first day of council? Or whose behaviour has been consistently in contradiction with the very outcome of democracy, i.e. rules and the law? No offense, just because someone is voted into power does not allow said individual to transcend the limits of said power. Democracy allows for choice, it does not mandate choosing with wisdom. Why should one be gentle with those whose choice has clearly erred - and in particular, when said individuals are slow to forgive the err of others but intransigent and disinclined to admit to their own?

AoD
 
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The case of alleged influence peddling can lead to Rob Ford being imprisoned if convicted. If this goes anywhere, this is actually more serious than his conflict of interest charge. However, it is not as straightforward to prove because a lot of the evidence isn't on the public record. Witnesses would need to be called, an investigation would have to take place. It could take years before it's settled. I don't think it would affect Ford in this term.

Examples in Canada: A Newfoundland MPP was convicted of influence peddling and was sentenced to 2 years in prison and a litany of financial penalties. Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien was accused of this crime but was found not guilty. An interim Mayor took over while the investigation was taking place.
 
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I bet some people were thinking exactly this as the Spadina expressway was put off due to NIMBYs.

You beat me to it. People love to hate the individuals they label as a nimby, but sometimes the nimby's are right.

Sadly and all too often, the perception of democracy slips to the level of merely voting, and not participation of any other kind. Going beyond that, even public participation can be a double-edged sword. That is the nature of a democratic society. A minority of the populace can express views that dissatisfy the majority, and that majority can then go on to vote and win, but sometimes that minority is right because they've bothered to pay more attention to the issues and information. Rightness and reason does not always triumph when when subjective emotions can be expressed through voting. Add to that, argument - even well-reasoned argument - can sometimes result in an entrenchment of unreasonable positions.

One thing that fascinates me is the use of the word "elite" as a means of undercutting a person or group. Rather than seeking out the best people in a society - particularly with respect to government - the word is now employed as a means of disparaging those who actually might know better. People shun the idea of an elite, either out of petty prejudice, or out of fear. We've come to a point where we seem to want people who we can have a beer with rather than someone who might be thought of as "too" intelligent. Change the category from politics and government to heart surgery, and suddenly having an elite surgeon around to do the work becomes a desired quality.
 
^I agree with you that the problem is not democracy. I happen to think the problem is that a sufficient number of people who exercise their democratic rights tend to be stupid and/or evil.

But, more to the point, if you dissect your amalgamation example, you are still left with the fact that amalgamation resulted from the democratic election of Mike Harris.

I agree with HipsterDuck's point which, if I may paraphrase, is that democracy can yield bad results unless it is properly bound by (1) a constitution that protects civil rights and (2) the rule of law. As we have seen (and continue to see), constitutions and the rule of law can be ground down quite rapidly by a determined government.

Toronto voted against amalgamation. Mike Harris undemocratically forced it upon us. It reinforces my point.

I genuinely believe that if The Old City of Toronto operated on its own and while getting back a fair proportion of the income it creates, Toronto would quickly turn into one of the finest cities that ever existed. We have so many progressive, intelligent, and creative people being held back by reactionary suburbanites who insist on a heavily subsidised car-centric lifestyle.

We've already established in this thread that de-amalgamation is unlikely, however.
 
In local current usage, 'elite' seems similar to 'browner' from our school days. The bullies used it to keep the other students in line, to attack any sign of non-conformance, to guarantee that no one attempted to establish importance for anything other than what most kids had already decided was important - sports, clothes, music, alcohol. To a Ford or their supporter, elite has nothing to do with power, wealth or status. It means you're the kind of person who has rejected car culture, or doesn't shop at Wal-Mart, or doesn't care about professional sports. You dare to consider that there may be other ways of living than the way most people live. And we can't have that.
 
The case of alleged influence peddling can lead to Rob Ford being imprisoned if convicted. If this goes anywhere, this is actually more serious than his conflict of interest charge. However, it is not as straightforward to prove because a lot of the evidence isn't on the public record. Witnesses would need to be called, an investigation would have to take place. It could take years before it's settled. I don't think it would affect Ford in this term.

Let us not forget, he appears hellbent on a second term.
 
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