After weeks of spectacle, things are starting to get back to normal for politician in Canada's largest city
How did he get that job?: mayor's antics go viral
- Chris Morgan
London, ON - He has become the most widely known Canadian politician of the past decade, but many people would say it's for all the wrong reasons.
During a two-week period this fall, it seemed almost impossible to access any facet of North American media without being bombarded with sound bites from the man, not to mention editorial rebukes, stand-up routines, YouTube videos, and opinions about his behavior.
He made saying, "I'm sorry" an act of defiance, not contrition, and - like most successful politicians - he wouldn't yield when the pressure was on to apologize.
His antics - and indeed, his public persona overall - was called "a gift" by long-time Tonight Show host Jay Leno. He was the subject of a song by former American Idol contestant and top-selling US recording artist Chris Daughtry.
We know more about his sex life than any of us ever wanted to know.
His impact has trickled down quickly through the culture, unraveling through 24-hour news outlets, twitter updates and morning headlines, prompting serious discussion about the nature and effectiveness of municipal democracy, but also drug addiction, alcoholism, political power and the limits of loyalty.
It's almost impossible to get a true sense of the man because everything said about him is just a reflection of a reflection; a house of mirrors where he is lost, and we are lost together.
More evidence of his lingering influence? In their December 5 edition, Rolling Stone weighed-in on the fiasco.
The magazine's 'threat assessment' graphic - an in-house editorial metric which measures the real-world impact of events or persons using 'with us' and 'against us' criteria - had a picture of the man at the far right of the 'against us' side, above the words, 'drunken stupors'.
(If the relevance of 'drunken stupors' requires an explanation, you haven't been paying attention. But that's beside the point.)
How did this happen? How did this man come to occupy the highest office in Canada's largest city? In democracies, do voters really get the governments they deserve? And if so, what does that say about the people who put him in power?
He was raised in privileged circumstances, by almost any estimation. His father - an entrepreneur and politician - was the founder of successful package labelling company. As an indication of his family's wealth, consider their six-bedroom home, which has a swimming pool and gardens that can host nearly a thousand visitors.
As a young man, he dreamed of becoming a professional football player, and because of his father's largesse, he was able to indulge his dream by attending prestigious camps and receiving special training.
He made the football team in university but didn't play any games, essentially ending his bid to pursue a sports career. He returned home after only one year in school.
By maintaining his father's political contacts, he had the network and know-how available to mount a successful electoral bid. In 2000, he became a city councillor for the first time, and after a decade in that role, he won the mayor's office with 47 percent of voter support.
While known for controversial comments and behaviour before and after his election, it's important to remember that what's happened recently isn't just because of him.
The tide of voter resentment that put him into office in 2010 was felt throughout municipal elections that year. Anywhere a candidate promised to "trim the fat" of government spending, his appeal to city taxpayers during that campaign was echoed.
Another reason for the public curiosity - at least internationally - is the perception that Canadians are a retiring and polite people. Everything this man seems to do flies in the face of that assessment and because of that, he is a topic for both conversation and comedy.
And still, despite being stripped of most of his mayoral powers in November, he continues to work, to field calls from his constituents, and to attend the events that will have him.
But like the dream football career he once aspired to, it appears Rob Ford's real-life political career has been sidelined as well. For now...