Doorstep Postings: Looking into Doug Ford’s future election prospects (from a Jewish angle)

Doug Ford at the Selichot service at Temple Sinai in Toronto, Sept. 17, 2017. (Credit: @FordNation)

This is the first in a series of opinion columns on the 2022 Ontario provincial election, written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.

In four months—Thursday, June 2, to be precise—Ontarians will head back to the polls to render judgment on Doug Ford’s government. Rest assured that Doorstep Postings will cover it all, with even more of the insider stories and campaign anecdotes that readers of The CJN came to expect during last year’s federal go-round.

But before I launch into my story of my close encounter of the Ford kind—and every politico worth their salt has at least one—let’s ease into things with a quick quote from our Jewish sages: “Every moment that a person shuts his mouth, he merits the hidden light that no angel or creature can conceive of.”
The sages were speaking about lashon hara, the practice of speaking ill of a person publicly. As we will soon see, they might have also been speaking about the sound and fury that follows the Ford clan like a tail. 

You see, I was an early adopter of the “Bash the Fords as often as possible, as publicly as possible” model. I had a good reason, or so I told myself. After all, if Rob Ford (z”l) had demanded that you be thrown off a campaign because he was mildly inconvenienced, would you take it lying down? 

The source of this mishap was a hastily installed phone system at the local campaign office. Transferring calls was more complicated than it had a right to be. When then city councillor Rob Ford placed one of his famous phone calls and asked me to connect him directly to the campaign manager posthaste, it went to the general mailbox instead of the CM’s personal voicemail.

That voicemail, in which he unleashed a terrifying storm of invective against me, was later played aloud to the boisterous laughter of the entire campaign team. 

Rob Ford, who would later have bigger problems to deal with, likely soon forgot about this incident. But I didn’t. So when RoFo ran for mayor a year later, and it was made known through the usual channels that all loyal conservatives were to report for duty, I said, “Nothing doing.”

Instead, I found a campaign composed of anti-Ford conservatives, liberals, and other non-partisans. 

The problem was, that campaign wasn’t that interested in actually out-campaigning him. Rather, they fundraised and spent a bunch of money, chased traditional media for a few measly column inches, and talked amongst themselves about how stupid, fat, racist and homophobic he was. Just you wait, they said. Councillor Ford would melt down and he’d never become Mayor of Toronto.  

Well, it’s coming up on a dozen years since all that happened. Rob Ford’s brother is premier, and those who would replace him are still engaging in the same rageful, ineffective lashon hara. If they repeat enough times that Doug Ford is stupid, fat, racist, corrupt, incompetent and a bit of a dick, Ontarians will have no choice but to get rid of him.

Meanwhile, after two years of a pandemic that killed thousands in the province—and the countless lockdowns and reopenings—Premier DoFo is still flirting with majority territory. 

In the intervening decade, I’ve learned a lot about why the Fords endure.

If I had to boil it down to one difference, it’s this: these people are willing to do what is necessary to win. Their opponents are mostly just willing to talk about it. 

Indeed, the wisdom of our Jewish sages has proven itself as relevant today as it ever was. If everyone who hates Doug Ford would get to work instead of posting creative insults on social media, it’d amount to a lot of hidden light being merited, which sounds nice. 

Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.