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Op-Ed: Can Toronto be saved? Special

By Bryen Dunn     Nov 12, 2013 in Politics
Toronto - As the momentum builds to dethrone Mayor Rob Ford, a question that has yet to be raised is how might all this international attention affect tourism?
Toronto has certainly made headlines around the world, on television news networks, major daily newspapers, blogs and other social media platforms, as well as the old fashioned water-cooler chat. For the most part, dialogue has come across negatively, humourously, or in a state of awe. Does the often quoted motto, any publicity is good publicity, stand true in this situation?
So could a municipal leader cause damage to a city’s reputation based on their tarnished reputation? Andrew Weir, Vice President of Communications at Tourism Toronto doesn’t foresee this. “Toronto has a reputation built on a broad foundation of positive experiences over many years, so one negative story isn’t likely to distract from that. People don’t travel to places based on civic leadership”, he states. He does point out though that, “although it’s unlikely to affect tourism, the current situation needs to be resolved immediately.”
Save Toronto
Save Toronto
Save Toronto
One tourism industry website has tried to inflict some humour into the situation by outlining a “Rob Ford Toronto Tour”, citing following in the footsteps of his drunken Danforth and St. Patrick’s Day escapades, a visit to his hometown stomping ground of Etobicoke and his office at City Hall, or perhaps one of the many seedy locations captured on camera recently where he and his circle of unruly friends like to hang out.
Another group of concerned citizens is taking things a bit more seriously, publicly calling out for Ford's resignation via a rally and protest in front of City Hall on Wednesday November 13th at noon. The Save Toronto campaign is calling for a motion to be set for his immediate removal from office at the next council meeting, which happens to be that very same day inside City Hall. Organizers cite his substance abuse and alleged criminal behavior as justifiable means for his dismissal from office. Further explanation behind this action is noted in a Save Toronto press release - “Under the City of Toronto Act, the Mayor can only be removed under a narrow set of specific circumstances, one of which entails being charged with a crime and incarcerated. While the Mayor has not yet been charged, the spirit of the law has been met. The Mayor of Toronto has now admitted to breaking the law during his term of office - Possession of a Substance, as per Section 4 (1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, and therefore no longer holds the moral authority to serve as the leader of law abiding citizens.”
Several City Councillors are also urging for the some form of retribution to happen as well, including Denzil Minnan-Wong and John Filion calling for either a leave of absence or a complete removal from office. Two other Councillors have also expressed their own concerns. Councillor Jaye Robinson stated on camera that “it’s definitely affecting business”, but didn’t elaborate how or to what extent, and Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby made reference to a transit authority in New York deciding not to invite Toronto to a transit study forum.
While we may not yet know whether damage could be done to Toronto’s inbound tourism and business market, it is of concern to many community leaders trying to continue business as usual. Kevin Beaulieu, Executive Director of Pride Toronto is still very excited and optimistic about World Pride coming to the city in 2014. This annual event that the Mayor refuses to attend brings in millions of tourism dollars, and is proposed to increase city revenue exponentially with the added global recognition next year. One of the many still unresolved concerns is the alleged racist and homophobic slurs that are supposedly contained within the yet to be publicly seen infamous crack video. “Mr. Ford already has a history of homophobic comments on record before he became Mayor that have never been properly addressed, and we would be more than deeply disturbed if further revelations come through via the video recording”, Beaulieu states.
So while Mayor Ford continues to chug his gravy train through the streets of Toronto hanging on to his one simple adage of saving Toronto taxpayers money, the number of opponents hoping to Save Toronto as a city is growing in numbers. This is the first time in recent Toronto history that concerned citizens and officials alike are taking a stance for themselves through a political movement.
As we all sit back and wait for the next revelation to break, let’s remain proud of our city and showcase some of the positive experiences that Andrew Weir alludes to above.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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