Robert Bruce Ford died on March 22, 2016 from abdominal cancer. From 2010 to 2014, he was mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, but his fame had more to do with his scandals than his governance. The list is long: use of narcotics, alcohol abuse, gender violence, racist comments and homophobic jokes, among other things. Now it is possible that a sports center will soon change its name to pay homage to the mayor.
On September 28, The Toronto Star quoted a letter sent to city councilors by current mayor John Tory. In the missive, Tory supports a proposal that’s been circulating since the death of the politician: that Centennial Park should be renamed after Rob Ford. The venue is mainly used for American football. With room for 2,200 spectators, it is located in Etobicoke, the district of Toronto where Ford was born.
The stadium would be recognition for his many years and “unique approach to public service”
Mayor Tory explains in the letter that it would be recognition for someone known for his “unique approach to public service” over many years, first as a councilman for Etobicoke and then as the top man in Toronto. Additionally, Tory underlines Ford’s passion for American football, for which he founded youth programs and worked as a coach.
Thousands of people (members of the so-called “Ford Nation”) and several political figures hope that this idea will be realized. It is worth mentioning that Rob Ford won the ballot in October 2010 with 47% of the votes, by not mincing words, through being a people person, and by promising budget savings.
However, other people reject the planned tribute, recalling Ford’s cuts to various welfare programs and, above all, his frequent scandals, the most publicized being when he appeared in a video smoking crack – apparently having obtained the drug from gang members – although he tried to minimize the gravity of the images several times. He had previously been criticized for his problems with alcohol, police interventions with violence – both at home and in public places – and a whole range of inappropriate or plainly offensive comments.
Many people reject this tribute, recalling Ford’s cuts to various welfare programs and his frequent scandals
Comments on social media and the press reflect the diversity of opinions surrounding the planned named change for Centennial Park. Some people point out that it’s easier to remember Ford’s bad behavior, but that they must remember the support he provided to many people. But many others believe the politician deserves to be forgotten. And one internet user had another suggestion: “Do you want to commemorate Rob Ford? How about an addiction treatment center?” A year-and-a-half after his death, the ex-mayor of Toronto still provokes cheers and jeers.
English version by Debora Almeida.