Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has become ensconced in a scandal so deep that the city’s once-divided council recently voted, by a resounding majority, to strip him of all but his ceremonial powers.
Yet despite new revelations landing almost daily about the Canadian mayor’s drug use and fraternisation with known criminals, Toronto residents have been far more forgiving.
The latest poll numbers from Forum Research – released in late November, weeks after Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine in “one of my drunken stupors” – showed his approval rating stable at 42 percent, while horse-race polls of declared and potential candidates had him within a few percentage points of winning the 2014 election. These numbers came even as thousands of residents participated in a series of rallies at city hall calling on Ford to resign, and as late-night comics vaulted Toronto’s mayor into the realm of international ridicule.
So who, amid all the scandal, is still supporting Ford? The answer lies in Toronto’s leafy outskirts, a slice of suburbia housing thousands of the mayor’s supporters, known locally as Ford Nation. Buoyed by Ford’s rallying cry that he would “stop the gravy train” at city hall, these were the residents who swept him to power in 2010, against the wishes of liberal-minded downtowners. And while the still-expanding crack scandal has taken a substantial chunk out of the mayor’s support, experts say Ford Nation is poised to remain a considerable force in the 2014 vote.
“Ford is somebody who argues that all of our problems can be laid at the feet of government that is too big and taxes that are too high,” Toronto-based political scientist Myer Siemiatycki told Al Jazeera.
“There is an appetite for that message in the public, and to the extent that there is such a thing as Ford Nation, that segment of Toronto’s population basically doesn’t care about anything else that he does or any other aspect of his behaviour as long as he stays true to cutting taxes and criticising government.”
Source : Aljazeela