The political scene in this city has never been more ridiculous than it is right now.
Following last week’s almost-punched-a-reporter saga, yesterday’s episode of Mayor Rob Ford’s radio show on Newstalk 1010 was yet another low point for the Ford administration. The mayor, with his cohost and brother Doug, spent much of his program time engaged in an on-air smear campaign alongside their brand new sidekick, Sun News Network personality David Menzies.
Their wandering conversation touched on a lot of points, but they started with the obvious topic: Daniel Dale, the Toronto Star reporter who almost found himself on the business end of a mayoral knuckle sandwich.
“I’m going to try to be as fair about this as possible,” declared Menzies, before proceeding to be incredibly unfair for the rest of his remaining airtime. He started with a prolonged ode to Ford’s commendable volunteer work – his football team – and then noted that the mayor has to be very careful to protect himself from stalkers, especially “in this day and age of post-John Lennon.”
That’s probably the first time Rob Ford has ever been compared to John Lennon.
Things got worse after that. Referring to the Toronto Star repeatedly as the “Toronto Stalker,” Ford’s guest took measured and nasty shots at Dale’s masculinity. “I’ve been told the Star purposely assigned their most effeminate reporter,” he claimed, floating the idea that Star editors were hoping to incite violence from the famously short-tempered mayor.
Later, Menzies asked pointedly why Dale hadn’t been fired for his part in last week’s story.
Menzies also took aim at Mary Walsh, the veteran comedian who has done her Warrior Princess bit with dozens of politicians across Canada. She hadn’t ever had anyone call the police on her until she tried to film a segment with Rob Ford last October. Of her, Menzies said, “if I had an alcoholic woman with a sword on my property, I’d phone the police too.”
Walsh’s prop sword is hardly a deadly weapon and she’s been open about her alcoholism, standing as an advocate for mental health, but, still, the mayor laughed. “Yeah, it seems like she was on something,” chuckled Ford. “I’m not quite sure what it was.”
Menzies then went down a different path, turning listener attention back to the 2010 election campaign. In a bizarre extended analogy prompted by an inappropriate question Ford was asked at a mayoral debate, Menzies compared questions about Ford’s weight to hypothetical questions about George Smitherman’s sexual orientation and admitted past drug use.
“Could you imagine if I was at that all-candidates meetings and I went to George Smitherman and I said, ‘You know what, George, being a practicing homosexual and the fact that you’ve been involved with all kinds of illicit drug use, how do we know you won’t engage in high-risk sex and drug use that will bring about HIV-leading-to-AIDS and you’ll die in office?’ I would be run out of town on a rail!”
Offensive? Stupid? Stupid and offensive? On the Mayor of Toronto’s radio show, you get both.
Menzies went on to rage against Ford’s council opponents. He called Councillor Karen Stintz “a liar, who would spit on your face and tell you it’s raining.” He pointed to Adam Vaughan as a “petulant guy who’s bitter with daddy issues.”
Pausing for a commercial break, the mayor noted his appreciation for Menzies’ comments. “David, that’s phenomenal.”
And, I guess, literally, it was. Phenomenal. This whole political administration meets that metric. This is once-in-a-lifetime inanity spun out slowly – painfully – in public, out of one of the highest political offices in Canada. We have to look at it because we’ve never seen anything like it and we may never see anything like it again. It’s a supermoon of political farce.