Society

Luminous Ford

Whiteness, race, and Toronto’s mayoral meltdown

Published on November 9, 2013

A few months ago, the press in Winnipeg received a leaked email written by Eric Robinson, Manitoba’s deputy premier and a senior member of the provincial government. In it, he made reference to “do[-]good white people.” Robinson is Indigenous, and his invocation of the word “white”—even in a private email intended for a co-worker—caused the Earth to shift on its axis a bit. The first rule of white club, after all, is you do not speak about whiteness. This is perhaps especially true in Canada.

I write this from Winnipeg, where I have outstanding work projects, a towering stack of laundry, and greater interest in things other than what’s happening in Toronto. I have not followed the Rob Ford fiasco very closely, though this has been oddly difficult. Outrage and what I can only call shame about Toronto’s mayor have filled my screens and pages for almost a year now, and most of it has left me sort of cold. This is not because I am a fan of Ford’s government or person (really!), or because I am weary of hearing about Toronto from a parochial Canadian media, though there is probably some of that. More than anything, the Ford debacle seems to be a troubling example of a mainstream Canadian unwillingness to name and discuss race. The mayor is luminously white, maybe even as white as his friend Don Cherry. Without taking Ford’s whiteness seriously, even insightful discussions like John Doyle’s reading of Ford as newly ascendant, mean, and powerful “hoser” lack the critical bite they could have.

The mayor is a different sort of white figure than the do-gooders mentioned by Robinson. Ford is an excessive, enraged, and wounded white everyman (with a distinct emphasis on the man) set against the increasingly non-white and migrant city he governs, within a country where Indigenous peoples and claims are growing louder and louder. Scholar and Broadbent Fellow Rinaldo Walcott has incisively analyzed the patterns of racialized policing and media coverage around the Ford case, reminding us that “what we are witnessing with the outcome of this civic fiasco is a naked form of how white privilege works.” And in Jacobin magazine, Freddie deBoer has tracked the racial logic of the Internet’s obsession with Ford’s crack habit within the particularly American context of race, drugs, and urban life.

If we view Ford and our interest in him in the terms suggested by Walcott, we will be less shocked and less compelled to enumerate the logical inconsistencies of the mayor’s persona and policy. Whiteness is what made it possible for Ford to rant about putting drug-users in jail and be a well-known recreational drug user. It was always clear who he meant when he talked about crack users, and it was never himself or other affluent, middle-aged white dudes who like to party. Whiteness is what makes it possible for the undeniably wealthy Ford to represent himself as a man of the people. He is not claiming to be working-class, not really, but to be white. Whiteness makes it possible for these opposing claims to co-exist, and to be, for a sizable percentage of the population, credible and compelling.

In Canada, race has sometimes been clear and loud. The Indian Act, first passed in 1876 and revised regularly thereafter and still in force, is as blunt a mechanism of race-making as one is likely to find. But race has also often been disconcertingly present and unutterable, as Constance Backhouse’s fine 1999 study, Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada, 1900–1950, makes clear. The powerful work that race continues to do goes largely undiscussed by those who benefit from it, often in ways that they cannot and will not acknowledge. The spectacle of the luminous, shambolic and, as writer Steph Guthrie notes, painfully “toxic” Ford surrounded by dead and incarcerated brown and black people—and competing for airtime with stories of police crackdowns on Indigenous protest in Elsipogtog—is yet another example of some of the very Canadian work that race continues to do.

  • Harrison Samphir

    Elsipogtog***

    • http://thewalrus.ca/ TheWalrus.ca

      Alack! (And thank you.)

  • Matthew

    What does it mean, then, that support for Ford comes largely from the suburban portions of Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough–home to the city’s largest immigrant communities and non-white populatsions?

    While opposition to Ford comes from the DECREASINGLY diverse, INCREASINGLY white (according to Statscan) Toronto/East York (or “downtown”).

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      Exactly. The very last thing I read before this article was this:
      http://www.torontolife.com/informer/columns/2013/07/18/philip-preville-champion-of-the-working-class/

      Prof. Perry’s claim that Ford is “set against the increasingly non-white and migrant city he governs” is in sharp contrast to the observations reported there from Prof. Taylor of UofT’s Cities Centre, whose work involves studying Toronto, rather than “not following very closely.”

      I agree there are important racial issues and aspects to Ford’s popularity and tenure—his relationship to the players of his former Don Bosco football team, and his supposed remarks about them in the crack video, could be discussed at length. I think it’s very important to talk about these. But when the analysis starts from a misconception of the demographics and politics of the city, the conclusions are bound to be misleading.

    • D. Ray Morton

      Yep, while it is intelligent sounding in many ways, the sentence that most rang true was “a long time ago she lived in Toronto.” No discussion at all of the Ward map – which can found on Torontoist – that saw all but 4 or 5 races in 2010 one-sided, whether they were for Ford or Smitherman (whose support came from more predominantly white areas). Ford’s victories were so large in Wards on the other side of the city … given that visible minorities had to choose between 2 (and really more than that) white candidates, not sure that it wasn’t the working class patina.

    • Your Momma

      I think you are missing the point.

      • KingSlippers

        Trenchant analysis.

    • Jared Purdy

      It’s also home to a much larger white population. The 905 region that is part of amalgamation is enormous. You are partly right, there is a large non-white immigrant population in that area, and many of them do vote for Forb because they are traditionally frugal, which is consistent with mindful use of taxes, and many are also socially conservative with respect to same sex issues, and Ford is a raging homophobe. On the race issue though, many of them are not likely to be familiar with that aspect of him (it wasn’t plainly obvious until recently – unless one paid attention outside mainstream media), either that or they are simply willing to turn a blind eye to it, which I doubt.

      • RiverdaleTim

        The 905 is not part of Toronto (former metro) it is the area around the amalgamation (Brampton, Ajax, Markham etc). Suburban Toronto is more ethnically diverse and poorer then the core neighbourhood of pre-amalgamation Toronto.

      • Matthew

        Yes, as Riverdale Tim says, the 905 was not part of amalgamation. Amalgamated Toronto = Toronto, York, East York, North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke.

        Whereas the 905 is Brampton, Ajax, Vaughan, Whitby, Mississauga, Hamilton, Oshawa, etc. (Which, in any case, do have substantial and in some cases huge non-white populations).

        • Jared Purdy

          Right, I think I was thinking of Etobicoke and North York.

      • Alexander B. MacLean

        There is no 905 in Toronto. The border of Toronto is the border of 416.

  • Godfrey St Cloud

    I don’t know why Perry wrote this. As near as I can tell there’s no argument or insight here, just pretence. If you know her scholarly work, though, this won’t surprise you.

    • thomas howard

      is this necessary or just all you have?

    • Guest

      And it’s far more likely to promote racism than any other tactic.

  • Matthew

    I’m just not sure what the premise is, besides that Ford has benefited to some degree, throughout his life, from white privilege, an obvious and not especially insightful point.

    I also don’t understand how the frequent references to Canada’s First Nations relate to Ford. They’re almost non-sequiturs–the writer simply seems preoccupied with the issue of Canada’s indigenous peoples, maybe due to her location in Manitoba, where that’s probably the most significant source of racial/cultural tension. But it doesn’t have much to do with Ford.

    I get that there’s a certain racial connotation with crack cocaine–but I honestly believe that if the drug in question were meth (generally considered a “white trash” drug) the reaction would be much the same, or maybe even MORE negative. Ditto heroin, or any other “hard” drug. Seems like lazy thinking, a point of view predetermined by a theoretical lens upon the world. Very…academic.

    Ford has not championed himself, nor do I think he sees himself, as “white.” He has championed himself as the underdog, the little guy, the defender of small business people and against a sort of strawman “downtown elite.” And that’s resonated with a lot of people–a lot of non-white people–who are having a hard time in a city that is increasingly segregated by income and race. A lot of non-white people really LIKE Ford. The irony is that Ford has no idea how to help those constituents, but I do believe that he honestly wants to. He’s just too buffoonishly incompetent.

    • Lee Zamparo

      >Ford has not championed himself, nor do I think he sees himself, as “white.”

      I don’t think it is worth anyone’s time or effort to consider how Ford has positioned himself. He does not consider himself a fountain of lies, racism, or misogyny, yet the facts say otherwise.

    • Alonzo B

      Thank you for an intelligent reply to this ridiculous article. I too was befuddled by the random toss-in of indigenous issues, and also was searching for the real “point” of this article. I’d like to point out as well that I’m not white and I still think this article is silly.

  • charlesmenzies

    Adele Perry nails it. The only way to make sense of this is through the lens of race.

    I would suggest, to those who point to Toronto’s multi-racial composition, that one look not to the city’s demographics, but to the demographics of those who vote. If Toronto is like most other major urban centers it will be very unlikely to find more than a third of the eligible voters voting. Furthermore, a significantly smaller portion of people are actually eligible to vote than live in the voting areas. So, to use the overall demographic picture of Toronto to suggest that race has nothing to do with the situation in Toronto is to facilitate a misconception.

    • Matthew

      Voter turnout was 53 percent in Toronto in 2010, though that was higher than usual, probably due to a backlash against the existing mayor and the popularity of Ford. (Which we can hope has waned.) Turnout tends to be lower among new immigrants, but not actually that much lower (and, in fact, young immigrants tend to have better voter participation than those born in Canada).

      Anyway, I don’t think people are saying race is irrelevant–but to perceive Ford’s support base as wounded white men lashing out from their suburban hidey-holes is a totally false reading.

      • charlesmenzies

        This is an empirical question that could be answered by a close look at the poll data (which I am sure someone has).

        Clearing Mr Ford is acting like the typical angry white man who denies aboriginal rights, derides feminist issues, and is unable to see his own substance abuse where he can see it in the actions of people of colour.

        It is, at any rate, a sadness to see any person of what ever origin twist and turn on the hook of addiction. It is doubly sad when such a person is enabled by people who appear to have only self interest at stake.

        • RiverdaleTim

          I agree there is not one Rob Ford supporter, some distillation of a unified coherent subject, that reflects the political culture of white distemper. Ford failure to conform to middle-brow standards of white respectability gave him a credibility with those voters tired of professional, technocratic, and groomed politicians. Ford’s populism may be wedded to an injured whiteness but it is only part of the story, and not one that explains his broader appeal. As for “getting away with it”we are still in the midst of this, there is immense pressure for him to go, he may survive. But even if he serves out his term I suspect that Bay Street, the developers, and civil booster will try to restore order be it with John Tory, Karen Stintz or some other neutral figure whose race and class politics are more careful calculated and masked behind a smiling face.

          • KingSlippers

            Not patronizing at all.

        • Matthew

          I think Rob Ford is simply in denial about his substance abuse. I also think that people are seeing what they want to see in Rob Ford, whether that’s defender of the little guy, archetypal angry white man, suburban villain, anti-elite crusader, etc.

          No one is simply seeing Rob Ford: A not very bright, quick-to-anger man with addiction problems who’s being misdirected by his family and those closest to him.

  • Gary Smith

    A very large percentage of Ford supporters are non-white. Those who have immigrated to Toronto recently cannot afford the sky-high cost of living downtown and often settle in the inner suburbs, Ford’s territory, which is far more multiracial than the traditional “white suburb” stereotype would assume. In fact, it is now the expensive downtown core that is becoming more white. For those who are not yet financially established in Canada, Ford’s promise of lower taxes often trumps all other voting considerations, including race.

    • Alexander B. MacLean

      You are the person who should have written the article, as you obviously know much more about the case here than the Winnipeg academic.

    • emwatcher

      That constituency should care the most about getting flexible and extensive rapid transit, getting it soon (rather than the extra five years Ford’s subway will require), and avoiding the tax increases Ford is now backing to pay for his gravy train.

  • KingSlippers

    “More than anything, the Ford debacle seems to be a troubling example of a mainstream Canadian unwillingness to name and discuss race.”

    More than ANYTHING? Really? The story isn’t about a mayor smoking hard drugs and lying about it? That’s not the story here?

    Even so, you could make a stronger argument that any themes here are about class, not race, since a good proportion of Rob Ford supporters are visible minorities. Of course, class would be about different values than what Adele Perry agrees with, which would make her a giant snob, so of course: race.

    Tangential nonsense about the Indian Act only underscores that this article barely has a premise, let alone an argument.

    PS: Adele Perry’s a professor? Yikes.

    • Snarky Daemon O’Mockery

      Hail Eris!

      Racism, homophobia, sexism, and the War On (Some) Drugs are all aspects of class warfare, but that doesn’t make class warfare the only lens through which they can be viewed with any validity.

      Snarky
      I’ve got a little floppy thing, and I’m not afraid to use it.

      • KingSlippers

        Nope but it’s the most relevant one.

        • Snarky Daemon O’Mockery

          Hail Eris!

          Oh, I forgot. You’re the guy who gets to define relevancy, when it comes to cases! I am SO sorry. Mea culpa. I’ll try to avoid stepping on your toes, in future. I’d hate to make an argument you think is irrelevant, and wind up pontificating in a way you would consider to be pointless.

          Snarky
          Silence, voyeuristic fanboy!

  • Brown

    Lots of merit, but let us not forget that it was the people of Toronto who put him into office, and who continue to support him. Many of his supporters are drawn from the Dixon community who are non-white but supported and continue to support his agenda. It’s a shame they, along with the rest of the city have been so misguided.

  • hoarfrost

    How unsurprising that the comments to this (correct, insightful) article underscore one of its points: “The first rule of white club … iis you do not speak about whiteness.” Any time someone tries to discuss white supremacy in the public sphere, white people get very upset.

    • KingSlippers

      Or maybe they understand that dismissive comments about groups entirely based on skin colour is still a form of bigotry, white or not.

      • hoarfrost

        Not when one group has all the power, it’s not.

        • KingSlippers

          Fighting bigotry with bigotry, then? Good luck with that.

        • Alexander B. MacLean

          One “group” has “all the power”? You’re fucking kidding me.

    • Alexander B. MacLean

      I think you mean “some white people” do you not? Lumping people together and generalizing about them is rarely appreciated. There are reasons why we no longer use the term “black crime” – because it doesn’t exist. Pointing fingers at an entire group for some members of it is shitty and counter-productive.

    • Matthew

      What is the premise of the piece then? (i.e., what is “correct” about it?) Identify the thesis, please, because I can’t locate it, which is job one of any piece of persuasive writing.

    • Guest

      this article is a long way from being correct or insightful. if you believe it is, then i think you must be a racist, just like the author is. people like that will never let racism die because they have too much to gain from it. in fact, their whole life relies on keeping it alive. what will y’all do when that day comes that you can no longer blame everything on racism?

    • Ben Cameron

      What makes you think that everyone commenting is white?

  • aphasiainasia

    Before criticizing Adele Perry for focusing on Rob Ford’s whiteness, maybe we should try reading some of the sources she is building off? She asks us to read Rinaldo Walcott’s article, so here are some key points on Rob Ford’s white privilege taken from Walcott:

    “We all know that police constantly stop, question and card young black people and aboriginal people with less evidence of suspicious activity than the warrant documents concerning Ford and Lisi reveal. So why didn’t the police intervene with Ford earlier?”

    And:

    “I read a tweet by a journalist asking her colleagues to give Ford a break while he enjoyed Halloween with his children … it asked for an exception that is never granted the poor, working class, black and other people of colour when they become embroiled in public events. However when white politicians, and even wealthy public figures run into trouble as is evident with Mayor Ford, some journalists are quick to remind each other about not covering family.”

    • KingSlippers

      1. They arrested Lisi, a white guy, which kind of undercuts the race argument. Very likely didn’t have enough direct evidence of actual *drug dealing* with Ford.

      2. This point fails to understand that Ford is a public figure, so I’m not sure what is actually being compared here. That said, journalists were camped on his property and there have been numerous interviews with friends and family.

      Perry is fairly being criticized because her argument is muddled and barely comprehensible.

  • RiverdaleTim

    This is an enormously appealing analysis that seems at first glance to give order to a confusing and a seemingly inexplicable phenomenon. I would agree with Perry and Rinaldo Walcott that Ford is a great example of the enormous benefits of being white. Yet Perry’s
    broad strokes elide the inter-constitutive aspects of racial and class
    hierarchies as they lived here in Toronto. Perry has no explanation of how Ford is able both to simultaneously reap the benefits of class, race and gender privilege and situate himself as an underdog, outsider and victim of an elite media conspiracy. We can see the operation of this seeming paradox in Doug Ford’s attack on Police Chief Blair and call for the removal of lawyer Andrew Pringle from the Police Board. Pringle is the embodiment of Wasp Toronto establishment, a partner in major Bay St. Law Firm, former chair of the Board of Upper Canada College, and one time chief of staff to Ontario Progressive Conservative leader
    and potential 2014 Ford challenger John Tory. Additionally as Phillip Preville argues in his Toronto Life article, Ford’s base is not necessary suburban whites looking for the comfort of a reassuringly white law-and-order, low tax, small government, politician. I’m not saying these are unimportant factors or that we should discount this appeal but it is not sufficient to explain Ford’s electoral success or explain how Ford maintained the levels of support he has despite the chaotic side show.

    If we look closely at Ward 34, one of the outer North York Wards that Ford won with a super majority over Smitherman and Pantalone, we can see some of the disconnect in Perry’s analysis. The Ward is more ethnically diverse, and poorer than Toronto, as whole, additionally it has a higher concentration of people who live in high rise apartments than other wards in the City. Hardly the land of white suburban affluence yet this is Ford county. The current councilman Chinese-Canadian Denzil Minnan-Wong is a Ford loyalist and Conservative Party member who was one of the folks recently purged from the TTC board.

    It is not Ford’s luminous whiteness but rather multiplicity, his ability to build a coalition of have-nots (or folks who perceive themselves as have-nots) across ethno and racial boundaries of the City. The challenge in understanding Ford is not why conservative white people might support him, but rather why do so many folks, be they white or people of colour, support this racist rich guy? We know from UofT
    political scientist Zach Taylor’s research that people with lower median income were more likely to support Ford than Smitherman. These people tended to live outside the core, drive cars, and have more precarious economic lives than people who supported Ford’s opponents. Perry is unable to take Ford’s supporters seriously or to take Ford as a politician seriously. People support Ford to the extent they do not because he is a lovable hoser, or an expression of white Canadian cultural id, or simply the inheritor of a long history of settler-colonial racism (this is after all a really big club amongst Canadian politicians Harper/Harris etc.) but rather because his policies appeal to those Torontonians who have been hurt by the economic downturn, who have to drive their older decaying cars from high rises in Rexdale, Flemingdon and Agincourt to get to hard to reach suburban factories and warehouses. These Torontonians pragmatically see tax
    cuts, rather than the improbability of pay raises, as the only real way to grow their income. Many of these Ford supporters may be white, but many are not, and though I’m sure they have no illusions about Ford’s white privilege at a personal level, they also see him as serving their economic and political interests, even as they see to the injuries of racism in their everyday lives.

    • Alexander B. MacLean

      You can delve into the “inter-constitutive aspects of racial and class hierarchies” all you want. But I vouch that the only meaningful question is why after All That Has Happened does he still have a base of about 35% that will not leave him? Once we understand that, we can work on making sure he isn’t re-elected.

  • Curious

    This article is actually ignorant: as others have noted Ford’s base is suburban New Canadian communities (as is Stephen Harper’s). He’s not “set against” them as stated in this article, he’s actually more popular with them than with the white hipster minority. People of Colour care less about needle exchanges, bike lanes, and all things gay and care more about their families and economic opportunity – Rob Ford and Stephen Harper speak to them, George Smitherman and Stephane Dion do not.

    There exists more than a whiff of white supremacy for the (nearly 100% white) media to stalk and harass politicians who are popular with ethnic communities. It is part of a pattern to extra-democratically purge right wing politicians against the wishes of the electorate – basically a white supremacist media launching a coup against the majority non-white Toronto electorate.

  • loveliving

    All you have to do is compare what happened to TDSB director Chris Spence when he plagiarized an article in a newspaper to what is going with Ford the crack smoking, drug dealing extortionist Mayor with roots in organized crime. Both are public figures, however, Chris is black and Rob is white. Rob is allowed to lie over and over again about his drug use, not show up for work and turn the office of the mayor and city hall into a circus. Once the plagiarism was discovered, Chris was called out by everyone, the press, his colleagues and his board to step down, and he stepped down. The white guy who is a toxic mess is allowed to stay and make more of a toxic mess of things, yet the black guy has to leave as soon as he is caught. The biggest irony is all of this is that when Chris’s plagiarism issue happened Rob Ford actually called for sanctions against Chris Spence to leave his post. Yet after the international spectacle Ford is making of the city and even more incriminating evidence of his immoral character with the recent release of a video in a crackishly violent state, Ford says he has done nothing wrong and refuses to step down. This notion of Ford not doing anything wrong is being perpetuated by other white men colleagues such as the deputy mayor and other politicians such as Jim Flaherty. They keep saying he’s a good man, he’s an honest man…but we all now can clearly see that it’s because he’s a “white man.” You don’t just get to take a few weeks off when you are the Mayor of a major city caught in a crack scandal. Even in America they know that this is going too far.

    • Alexander B. MacLean

      Ford is his own boss. Rest assured that other white people who run into problems either get treatment or the old heave-ho; vacation and juicing is not enough. I know this from personal experience.

    • KingSlippers

      If you can’t see why a director of a *school board* plagiarizing is a bad thing then you’re a lost cause. Has nothing to do with race and everything to with Chris Spence’s role as an education administrator.

      And if the mayor could be recalled, it would happened. Unfortunately the Mayor can’t be fired easily, if at all — It’s a flaw in the way City Council has been designed. All four major newspapers and pretty much the world want him to step down, but nevermind that I guess, keep inventing up ad-hoc narratives and false dichotomies that suit your world view.

      • loveliving

        Can you read? I said I do see why Chris Spence plagiarism needed to be dealt with. I am just pointing to the fact that for a public official, the Mayor’s crack smoking issue and criminal behaviour is much more contentious but he is basically given a pass.

        This is a double standard. Racism is actually when white people get to change the rules of conduct in order to preserve their white privilege. When a person of colour does the same thing or less they are penalized, even if rules much be changed in order to do so, but when a white person does he same or even worst, there are so many excuses why you can’t change the rules and more time is given to rationalize the bad behaviour.

        Racism is schizophrenic in nature and racist systems such as our institutions make up the rules as it goes along even though it doesn’t make sense.

        That is why it doesn’t make sense Ford is still in power much less not arrested while people who had the video are in jail. This article is bang on, the Ford fiasco is showing the ugly truth about racism in Toronto.

        • RiverdaleTim

          Ford is not getting a pass. He is getting global ridicule and deservedly so. My sense of that much of the Conservative elite in the City would love for this guy to step down and go away. I agree there is an ugly truth to racism in Toronto but the article gets it wrong. Ford’s whiteness is not respectable, it is not middle-brow, even as it is enabled by personal wealth. Rather it his capacity to play the “outsider” within Toronto, something that actually has broad appeal across working-class racially and ethnically diverse communities, that keeps him at 35% approval. Finally unless he quits the only way to fire the guy is through an election a year away.

          • loveliving

            Then why is he still in office? And why do those in charge refuse to change the rules so that he is forced to step down? It is not moral for our Mayor to be smoking crack while the police are arresting people for selling it. Why is the Mayor allowed to hide behind Lisi’s extortion charges for trying to get the crack video when Lisi’s actions were authorized by the Mayor and quite possibly his brother. If the surveillance can be used to arrest the Lisi, then why not the Mayor? The reason?Because the Fords in office benefit some white people some how, either through some business deals that are out there such as potential subway contracts or the casino or the waterfront projects. There are a dozen or so money ventures with the Fords name on it and on top of that Doug Ford wants to salvage enough face for a run in the provincial. Racism is a tool that is used for white folks to get what they want. Actually if you watch the movie 12 years a slave, where a free black man is captured and thrown back into slavery and a lunatic white man is allowed to keep slaves regardless of his inhumane treatment of them you might get it.

          • Guest

            Um, it would be Ford who would have to change the rules to make it so he could be fired. Think that’s gonna happen?

          • Guest

            The conservative elite did not elect him. It was minorities who elected him.

        • KingSlippers

          Can I read?

          “All you have to do is compare…” is what you wrote.

          Rob Ford is in power because Toronto city council is designed in a flawed way which requires an actual criminal conviction to remove him from office, black or white. The Toronto police do not have enough evidence to convict Ford of drug dealing, which he likely is not doing. It’s pretty simple. Ford will get his comeuppance in the next election (including my vote).

          I’m still not sure what you were expecting with Spence, exactly?

        • Guest

          Truly, I cannot see where you see that Ford is being given a pass? Please explain?

          • loveliving

            The police did not arrest him and even after making lewd remarks on live tv he is still in office. If you or I did this while working at a corporation we would be fired. And if we did any of these things under police surveillance we would be arrested.

          • Guest

            no, we wouldn’t. there is no law against swearing. And there is nobody who can fire Ford. He is not working for a corporation. Do you really imagine that nobody who works for a corporation has ever done anything like this? you are pretty naive.

          • loveliving

            Actually swearing in public is considered disturbing the peace. And also broadcasters can be fined by the CRTC for airing lewd comments or acts. But I digress, having a joint on your person or in your property is definitely a crime in Toronto, and for the Mayor to be stashing weed and other drugs in his desk is city hall is not only a crime but a disgrace. To be offering a joint to guess visiting your home is also a crime. Don’t understand why people resort to name calling when they don’t agree with others. I would call myself cute but never naive. Use your words please….

          • Guest

            You are making no sense at all. Naive is exactly the right word.

    • Guest

      Ford has been called out by everyone as well. the only difference is that Ford has stood his ground. He is seriously screwed up, there is no doubt of that, but still I like him and I can only say it is maybe because of that. Gotta admire a man who can stand up to all that.

  • EricBlairEtc

    The funny thing about this article, is that while it purports to talk about race, it’s really about letting people in power off the hook. That’s what Perry does with Robinson.

    Perry’s account of the leaked e-mail and Eric Robinson is wrong. The e-mail was not leaked: it was obtained through Access to Information, and the “offending” line about white do-gooders had been blacked out, for no reason other than to protect the minister from being embarrassed.

    The supposed “white do-gooders” were people who ran a battered women’s shelter, and the owner of a local store had run a fundraiser that featured burlesque dancers. The main organizer was not white: she was African-Canadian, and had indigenous step-siblings.

    The problem isn’t always race. It’s about power, and class. As it happens, Robinson’s fellow cabinet Minister, Gord Mackintosh, has a son who was arrested for an armed robbery while wearing a mask. Nothing has happened.

    So the stark fact is that it doesn’t matter if you are NDP or Liberal or PC or Conservative, if you’re powerful, you won’t face the same punishment a nobody would.

    • Alexander B. MacLean

      Thank you.

  • Brad Mole

    What it means is people of all colors desperately wish to embrace conservative policy in a city so over run and brutalized by progressive agenda.

    • Alexander B. MacLean

      Perhaps. There was definitely a bad reaction to David Miller who stayed a key player in the race even though he ducked out when people were mean. But does a conservative agenda have to be like this? I’m a lefty, mostly, but could live with a K. Stintz or J. Tory if it meant being relieved of this alcohol-addled bully and liar. (Which is, of course, a false choice. We’re just talkin’ here).

      • Brad Mole

        No doubt, a better conservative champion would be preferable. It’s just so hard to let go of anyone of right thought in the GTA.

      • Brad Mole

        Being Conservative is a state of mind. Like any ideology, value sets change with orthodoxy. As a fiscal conservative, if smoking crack means the people of T.O. can cut spending by 50 million then, start passing the pipe!

  • Alexander B. MacLean

    Terrible. My profs would have sent me packing if I’d tried this crap. As others note below, the real “race” story is the strong personal pull that Ford has on many visible minority people in this city who feel they have an ally against elites and their pet causes. That they are voting against their own interest, as the “elite” know-betters will tell them, is not apparent to them.

    A good bit of journalism would involve going out to the inner ‘burbs and actually talking to the voters who find something in him that they value. I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is, but I’m guessing that a degree of social conservatism is behind it, as Ford has for more than a decade made clear his disdain for “latte liberal” causes such as Pride, gay marriage, various social programmes including anti-gang measures, needle exchanges, AIDS education and (!) even drug prevention programmes and of course anything to do with climate change or environmentalism.

    Surely, Walrus, you can do better than this.

  • Leah

    I was very surprised to learn that Ms. Perry is an academic with a CRC, given that she did no form of research for this very falsely written, unconvincing, flawed article. As an academic and Torontonian myself, this is especially bothersome.

  • Alexander B. MacLean

    One more thing “Whiteness is what makes it possible for the undeniably wealthy Ford to represent himself as a man of the people.” Did whiteness make it possible for Layton – who had impeccable white credentials and political lineage and was an academic – represent himself as a man of the people? Broadbent? Mulcair? What about the undeniably wealthy Obama? In the post-modern academic world and critical race studies, evidence isn’t valued very highly, is it, when you have a hegemony to undermine.

    • Brad Mole

      Whorehouse Jack?? The socialist elite who despite a six figure income, lived in T.O. subsidized housing and whose career survived being caught in a rub n tug. Ya, it was his whiteness.

  • marcellacorroelijager

    I teach adult esl and all my conservative immigrant students will vote Conservative at all levels of gov’t without question – literally – and remain loyal to a fault. For them, any kind of corruption here is nothing compared with what they experienced back home so they vote and support and don’t question -and often vote collectively rather than individually as is mostly normative in their cultures – this is what Harper and Ford strategists have counted on – And though Adele may have gotten the demographics wrong, she is still right about WHITENESS and RACE being players in this Ford saga – just because you’re brown and an immigrant doesn’t mean you can’t be racist against brown politicians – you can be – and they are – has anyone heard of the white saviour complex? This may not be true for all immigrant conservative voters, but it is true for some of them. But nonetheless, what Adele says is very true – WHITE RICH MEN still get away with stuff that a White woman, a Brown woman, and a Brown man could NEVER get away with. Ford is truly a luminous example of this – thank-you Adele for illuminating this dark corner!

  • Ben Cameron

    This is lazy and sensationalist thinking. You provide no argument in logic and no evidence that it is Ford’s (undeniable) “whiteness” that made Ford’s hypocrisy possible. In fact, I’m not sure what you mean by possible, but it is not as if Ford’s some how got away with it. He’s the target of almost universal derision. He may well be criminally charged.

    If he is receiving some kind of special treatment because of his race, show it. Hell, use anecdotal evidence. Just use something LIKE an argument, because this clumsy gumbo of historical injustices and broad indictments of society is repugnant to the idea of logic.

    A lot of people are racist. Our society may well be inherently racist. The Indian Act was bad (though I think it i more complicated than that, given how resoundingly FNs opposed abolishing the Act). Ford is white. Ford has (to follow your theory) been accorded some measure of leniency in this whole scandal. Therefore, Ford has been accorded this leniency because he is white, which is, in turn, because society is racist. That is your argument.

    I’m not saying this is implausible, but it would be nice if , before making such hysterical accusations as this, you could demonstrate that they are something more than “not implausible.”

    • Guest

      Most FN people tend to forget things like the way they strongly opposed abolishing the Indian Act. Yet almost daily, they decry it. Make up your minds, please. The reason for opposition was that it provides a lot of free cash. Today, many bands oppose land claims, as well, for much the same reason. If the land claim is settled, the band gets far less cash annually, and maybe none. I am sure that part of the reason for this is govt wants them to have to let drilling, fracking, etc, in order to get cash. But in the end, FN still need to pay a lot more attention to how they are being manipulated every day. And they need to stop opposing accountability by their leaders with regards to the money being handed over. Ordinary band members do not profit to the extent they should.

      • Ben Cameron

        I think you are right that many band leaders need to be held accountable to the members of their band. However, I hesitate to accuse FNs of not making up their minds. After all they are “First Nations,” plural. It’s to be expected that there would be some disagreement among such a geographically and culturally disparate group of people.

        • Guest

          Yes, you are correct. I merely would like to point out that sometimes it is necessary to align with another group in order to accomplish a particular goal. It is counterproductive to not see this principle and utilize it.

  • Lorin Yochim

    This is a really disappointingly un-argued piece. The role of whiteness in the Ford story is important, but I’m sure most readers unfamiliar with academic discourse around racialization, colour blindness, etc. will leave this too-short piece no less enlightened. Hopefully they’ll take a few moments to read some of the links.

    • Carmen

      Yes. I think there’s some good points towards the end, but the article overall comes across as a bit out of touch, given that Ford’s brand of conservative populism (which is not limited to Ford or to Toronto) is appealing to a variety of people, including, as another commenter put it, migrants who feel marginalized by white liberal elites.

  • on-line reader

    Yes, Ford is a blonde, pale white guy. But viewing Ford’s success into a “White vs Non-White” prism really doesn’t work.

    This is more about buying into Ford’s myth about the runaway gravy train at City Hall than anything else.

  • bingbingwa

    CARTOON inspired by Rob Ford

    http://pastexpiry.blogspot.ca/2013/11/cartoon-keep-calm-and-carry-on-rob-ford.html

    ………………………. nov 13

  • Bob H.

    IMO Rob probably thinks he’s not an addict because he’s in denial….a common characteristic of pre-contemplative addicts. So is lying which Rob does a lot of. Every “white” person I’ve heard mention this Ford BS has said or implied he’s an addict….their “whiteness” hasn’t clouded their minds on his substance abuse issues. This article reeks of bias with hidden agendas, and supports the detrimental racial divisions entrenched in our society. Those cited pieces and this article sure are great smokescreens that 1%’ers love as a diversion for the 99% they steal from every day. Media fuelled racism helps point people’s anger at one another instead of their real oppressors. Unfortunately lots of folk buy into this racism garbage cause it’s sold well, and gives people that like to shout from a soap box a topic to bitch about instead of fixing the real issues….inequality for the majority (white also) of people. I’m from Winnipeg too, and the big problem in the First Nations community here isn’t racism….it’s the chief’s and band counsels stealing the money and resources that’s supposed to help their own people change their lives for the better (MANF anyone). Then those chiefs and counsels blame the “white man” for not helping them out of their challenges partly caused by Greedy European settlers while they live very very well. Blanket blaming something on a “race” be it white, black, green, brown or orange is racism; and this article stinks of it.

  • ron ban

    Hey Adele,
    Rob Ford was elected heavily by minorities who live in suburbs like Scarborough and feel disrespected by the (predominantly) white liberal elites who live downtown.
    Amazing the lengths to which some ‘journalists’ will twist facts to fit their agendas and preconceived notions.

  • LeSage

    It is not whiteness that allowed Ford to be a recreational drug user while demanding drug user be put in jail. The term you are really looking for is cognitive dissonance and is something those of the right-wing perspective have been perfecting for some time.

  • Alonzo B

    Wow. This is the stupidest article I’ve ever read. I love how people think that as soon as they bring up the race card they will have an article of substance. I’m not a Rob Ford supporter at all, but leave the goddamn racial critique out of this. He has clearly made prejudiced and racist remarks, and yes, this may have to do with his race, but his “ability” to use drugs and still denounce them has nothing to do with whiteness. The mayor of Washington was re-elected after his drug scandal. He is Black. If the mayor was Black and all of this criticism was being fired at him, there would be a huge media backlash protecting him automatically from the “racism” of accusing him of doing drugs.

    Also the fact that he is a white male is not news to anyone. Basically that is all your article is saying. It is devoid of any real point. All you are saying is that Rob Ford is white and male. Therefore he may have certain advantages in life over minorities or women. Okay, we get that. We all know that. Focusing on that aspect doesn’t change a damn thing. Everyone is still outraged at him. He’s a terrible mayor who isn’t doing his job. Don’t waste everyone’s time with your pathetic attempts at sounding academic.

  • Sophia Michel

    Great Post…….. thanks,

    Tube Rolling

  • Eli ‘frittz’ Roszell

    wow what a decidedly racist point of view… cant he just be an ignorant crack user without being a WHITE ignorant crack user. Almost like how your article makes you sound race obsessed and a little moronic.

  • Ian Skinner

    As someone who went to HS in Etobicoke when he and his bro did, I can tell you that your story is missing the point; they were simply pricks to anyone that wasn’t buying drugs from them, or would help them gain a leg up.. didn’t matter what colour you were. But thanks, from a ‘white guy’ , for trying to make this a race issue, as if Being a white male isn’t hard enough now in Canada.

  • christinaarcher

    Rob Ford is white. And proud of that. Can anyone say, ‘Javex’?