The Problem of Representation and Rob Ford

Being away from my home city of Toronto has made me miss it more than I ever thought I would. I miss knowing where I am when I go downtown. I miss being able to know where the coolest places are to shop without looking on the internet. I miss the the whirling sounds the streetcar makes as it lurches along it’s tracks and oh we’re stuck in traffic again. I miss the the quirks that make my rough city home, so when I see Rob Ford used as a representation for Canada, but especially my city my blood boils.

Let’s first get this out of the way, I do not like Rob Ford. His policies are based on the polarization of “leftist-downtown-pinkos” and the suburbs, he has been caught on video being racist, homophobic and sexist, his policy on how to fund the city, whilst decreasing taxes don’t make any sense, and he has used his privilege of being a mayor to kick people off a bus. He has lied on multiple accounts of drunk driving and using elicit drugs, and he uses the idea of him being bullied by the world in order to get votes.

When Ron Ford finally admitted to using crack cocaine the media went crazy. A simple search for Toronto will pull up thousands of hits around the globe of “Mayor Rob For Smokes Crack.” The Daily Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Colbert Report all report of it. Many people couldn’t tell you a think about Canada, but doesn’t that mayor smoke crack?

Suddenly he becomes the representation of Canadian politics. Steven Harper who? It is all about Mayor Rob and his issues. This may seem like a silly issue, but it fundamentally highlights the issue of representation. Canada has 33 million people and 1 man becomes the face of the country. All the voices get swallowed up. Especially in a city like Toronto that has had it’s entire identity dragged thought the mud with this guy. The issue with representation is that people don’t connect to it happening. I didn’t vote for my city to become the laughing stalk of the world.

Fundamentally the issue is that people skip over what the city, and a larger sense the country, has to offer. Toronto becomes the city where the mayor smokes crack, not the city where insulin was invented.

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