Toronto on a Bender

Toronto on a Bender

~ From Stephen Marche ~
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TORONTO — Earlier in Toronto’s election season, back in July, Mayor Rob Ford, fresh out of rehab, went glad-handing along a Canada Day parade route. The crowd heckled and booed, and a man who was jogging by stopped to make his views known: “You liar! You racist! You’re a disgrace!” he shouted. “This guy here? He’s a joke!”The mayor’s cancer diagnosis, which caused him to cede his place in the campaign to his brother Doug, a member of the City Council, came later; Rob Ford was already a faded act by then. Torontonians were sick of their fool king.Now that Toronto’s most famous and most grotesque son will definitely not be mayor again, the mild-mannered citizens of Toronto will go to the polls with some relief on Oct. 27. After four years of being led by a violent addict, the quiet life has a profound appeal.But the quiet life may no longer be possible in Toronto politics. The campaign has been, by Canadian standards, brutal. Debates have frequently devolved into screaming matches between groups of partisans brought in for the purpose. A heckler shouted “Go back to China” at the mayoral candidate Olivia Chow. Munira Abukar, a Somali-Canadian candidate for City Council, found campaign signs scrawled with “go back home” and “bitch.” In a city that prides itself on its openness and politeness, this dirtiness and savagery are unpleasant novelties.

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