This is an open letter to Mayor Robert Ford, from a concerned citizen. First off, I didn’t vote for you, but I’m glad you’re the mayor. You’re actually quite good for Toronto. But these are hard times for you. You must be feeling cornered. The press has united against you, you have very few allies left on council, your support has plummetted. The walls are closing in. You’re feeling it now.
It would be understandable if you were worried that one day people are going to say your mayoralty was a failure. But they won’t, Mr. Mayor. No, they are going to call it magnificent. Because just now, in your darkest hour, you are going to resist the urge that is growing in you, the urge to wash your hands of it all. As in: fuck ‘em, they don’t deserve me. Fuck all of them.
But don’t do it.
Sure, if you resign, you’ll be replaced, maybe even by a sock puppet, and the new mayor will do a very professional job. You’re not doing a very professional job, but duh, how could you? You weren’t cut out for this. Someone told you you had to be more “important” to be worth something. And you had lots of pressure from biglittle brother and who knows who else and lots of people put the thoughts into your head that you have in your head. That wasn’t very nice of them, and probably you shouldn’t have listened.
And really and truly, a lot of people really like you, and they are just as mad at the people you’re mad it. The ones who have tried to make you look dumb. The ones who have split hairs. The ones who have sought any technicality to discredit you. The fucking haters, man! It must be awful! But listen, Batman had enemies. And what happened to Batman’s enemies? These are thoughts you need to start having.
Anyway, I guess you could resign. It’s viable, and there is an upside. You could have someone write you the most charming, incredible resignation speech that’s ever been written (look me up) and then you give the speech with grace and a cheering soupçon of your personality—it’s all for the good of the city, the city has to have confidence in its mayor, despite my best efforts, my first love is football, etc etc—and ten years from now, you have a statue of yourself in Etobicoke. Guaranteed. Resignation could be a good outcome for everyone because the city would get back to business and you could get your tuchis out of the fire and de-stress and get your health back. Those are all plusses, obviously. Your health is of serious concern to all Torontonians, it really is. No one wants you to be unwell!
So there are certainly some arguments for walking away from it all, and you can get help taking the high road for sure. But let me tell you why you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t quit because although you are a lousy mayor, you are a great artist. You are one of the most magificent clowns we have ever known. And not a clown in the way the people in the hemp underwear spit that word at you, but well and truly, like Pagliacci, like Emmet Kelly, the greatest clown ever, who would try, and fail, to sweep up a pool of light. People wept for joy.
Your performance, Mr. Mayor, has gladdened the people of Toronto. Like Oliver Hardy, like W.C. Fields, like Ed Koch, your face is the truth. Your inner self is expressed through it as if through a magical foghorn. You speak without guile; your grand comedy is offered gallantly with a straight face and your choices—the sum of every great artist—are astonishing and fill us with delight.
There have been unintended consequences, but you have made love bloom in Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford, and especially in the old city of Toronto, where sleepy citizens, used to business as usual—are you noticing how World Class we are?—have awoken to actually be in the city. You did that! That is awesome! You’ve made a whole city look at itself and people here are talking about how they feel about Toronto, and what they want out of their own city. They never really did that before. They’re out a lot, wandering around. Your marketing people should change the ad campaign from “We’re expecting you,” to “We can fit you in.” It’s electric out there. You’re presiding over an important moment in civic history, and you’re adding soul-cleansing laughter to it.
Unfortunately, the people who elected you are going to get mad because you were supposed to solve transit and you haven’t, and you’ve let the lefty lawyers in, and you have appeared, at times, intemperate, and then there’s all that stuff about supposedly manipulating and rushing staff over public board appointments. I’m not sure I get that bit, but you’re the comic genius, not me. But the suburbanites didn’t even get the ferris wheel joke, and that’s too bad because it means you lost them early. And in the old city of Toronto, we don’t have enough votes to bring you back for four more years! The thought of an epoch of you in office makes me jellylike with pleasure.
So it won’t happen. In all likelihood, you won’t be back. And you’re basically powerless now, so you’re really just going to have to choose. You could resign, which really would be tragic, OR … you could just let it go! You could let your shoulders down and go coo-coo. Have fun. Make some incredible pronouncements. What the fuck, make a reality show out of it. Why couldn’t you do that? Do what you’re doing on the radio on television. (First episode: the Mayor rallies to push the Toronto Islands back up against the mainland in order to build the largest haunted boat ride in the world. Right on our NEW waterfront …)
If you take this route, you can just go to council when you’ve got time and you feel like it. Just do it right in the open. Answer phones. Everyone will eventually get the idea. Council will do some councilly stuff if you’re not there, big whup. (Have you read the stuff they gotta read? I just read the Ombudsman’s report and that’s forty-five pages to say you lit a fire under staff’s collective bottom and they couldn’t handle the heat! Why does there have to be so much work before the work gets started? Get people on boards, get the boards to work. They want it to look like the UN, and you don’t care, just get it done. There are a lot of capable people standing right outside the door. And some people are complaining about the optics, but like I say, it’s brilliant. It’s like watching a whole troop of clowns pile into the backseat of 1982 El Dorado with you, waving a baton.)
I am being honest when I say I have no idea what you’re going to do next, but I’ll tell you, I am glued to my set and my eyes are wide with wonder. So don’t go. Unless you really think it would be better. But don’t. If you give us two more years, we’ll try to be worthy of you. In the meantime, Mr. Mayor, bravo.