The Rob Ford allegations that emerged Friday night affirmed the Toronto mayor’s shocking narrative of descent in many of the usual ways: reports of heavy drinking, drug use, driving while intoxicated, ranting and raving are, sadly, nothing new for Ford. What was new this time was that Ford allegedly aimed his venom at Jews.
According to the Toronto Star, Ford told someone on the other end of a cellphone “Nobody sticks up for people like I do, every f—ing ki-e, ni–er, f—ing w-p, d-go, whatever the race. Nobody does.” Then, in case the listener didn’t glean the mayor’s message from his first, discombobulated attempt: “I’m the most racist guy around.” And finally, an affirmation many wish wasn’t true: “I’m the mayor of Toronto.”
Ford’s statement speaks for itself and, if it’s true, then no excuse or explanation can make it go away. It’s hard to see how he might re-ingratiate himself to the Jewish, black, Italian and Spanish communities in Toronto he so viciously disparaged with the derogatory remarks reportedly caught on tape.
The mayor’s supporters – some of whom would more accurately be described as enablers – will reply, again, that booze and drugs, and the media, are to blame, not Ford himself. Some – even in the communities he attacked – will repeat the mayor’s popular “standing up for the little guy” talking point, even though this particular rant brazenly contradicts it.
Unlikely as it may seem, Rob Ford’s latest stumble offers an opportunity for us to discuss a Canadian Jewish News-related issue – namely, how we cover politics and elections.
Over the last few months as this newspaper has reinvented itself, one of the primary objectives has been, in a word, balance. It’s not an exact science – there’s no mathematical formula – but we try our best to frame the news and community issues we cover from all points of view equally – right, left, Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green and everywhere in between. (How The CJN approaches Israeli politics is a topic for another day.)
The point is to share ideas and opinions, not tell you how to think or which way to vote. As the independent voice of Canada’s Jewish community, we believe our job is to broadcast the wide variety of opinions and perspectives Canadian Jews hold. It’s one of the reasons why, for example, we ended the practice of publishing unsigned editorials. The notion that there is one particular Canadian Jewish stance on just about any matter is, frankly, ridiculous.
Most newspapers, now as ever, have defined political positions, and that can engender a type of tunnel vision. Add to that the political conversation online, and if you only ever wanted to read things you would agree with, you’d have more than enough to choose from.
But the breadth of Canadian Jewry affords The CJN a unique opportunity to do quite the opposite – to act as a communal space for the exchange of ideas, opinions, beliefs. That’s our aim, and the fact we’ve received complaints so far that we’re too right-wing and too left-wing suggests we might just be on the way to achieving the impartial equilibrium we’re after. — YONI