Rob Ford stepped out of bed, stretched his arms high up over his head and then all the way down to his toes. He laughed. He was still getting used to being able to do that. Surpassing his goal and losing 75 pounds during the Cut The Waist Challenge he and his brother Doug had set up as a media gimmick had turned out to be the greatest decision — personal and political — he had made in his whole career. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt this good in his own skin. He wasn’t short for breath when he was playing with his kids in the yard, or running drills with the Don Bosco boys out on the field at practice — not to mention being chased around City Hall by desperate, frothing-at-the-mouth reporters.
Despite feeling energized, Rob was a little groggy after the busiest week since the election. Being Toronto’s most-loved mayor in a generation was an exhausting full-time job.
What a week it had been! It started with a bang when video footage of a Grey Cup media event went viral around the world. The mayor had surprised even himself when Argos quarterback Ricky Ray tossed him a long bomb and Rob made the stunning, diving catch, somersaulting through the air and landing in a perfect Tebow pose on the astroturf at Nathan Phillips Square. The incredible footage played on newscasts across the globe and Rob found himself inundated with interview requests from the likes of Jay Leno, Bill Simmons and Barbara Walters. “What’s going on in football-crazed Toronto and who is this super-human mayor?” they wanted to know. “You’re trending on Twitter worldwide,” his aides told him. Ford knew what this meant, but it didn’t make him feel better about the plight of ordinary Torontonians struggling to make ends meet. Those were the people whose opinions mattered to him.
ARRRGGOOOOS. What a great game! You know you’re doing something right when the Prime Minister is clamouring for a photo with you. At one of the many Argonauts victory parties Rob was invited to, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon pulled him aside and tearfully thanked him for helping share Canadian football with the world. Ratings were through the roof and the revenue was pouring in. It was an economic boon for the city! “Just doing my job, representing our fair city and everything that makes it great,” Rob had said. Accepting compliments didn’t come naturally to him, but he was getting used it.
More good news arrived on Monday when Judge Hackland ruled in his favour, dismissing the bizarre conflict-of-interest charges on constitutional grounds. Rob had gone to court out of principle after apologizing for his clerical mistake. (He’d used the wrong letterhead! What a goof he was. Guess that’s the risk you take when you work late into the night to make life better for some good-hearted kids who just need something to believe in.) A disgruntled citizen — a literal communist! — had dug up some arcane law in the hopes of ousting the much-loved mayor thus usurping the will of the people. Ford’s impassioned testimony — at council and in the courtroom – that he had the right to defend himself when accused of corruption had convinced the judge to challenge the validity of the undemocratic, too-easily-exploited loophole outlined in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Justice had been done and the mayor’s good name upheld.
And so Rob was not concerned when he left council early on Tuesday to prep his Eagles for their championship game. Ford’s disciplined agenda and overwhelming support from the citizenry meant council would get on without him. His sleazy opponents knew they couldn’t get away with any of their sneaky tricks in his absence, lest Ford Nation run them out of office in the next election. Even if he wasn’t in the room, Ford’s presence was always felt in the council chambers.
His boys did him proud on the field that night. The Don Bosco Eagles were Metro Bowl champions. Even if they had lost, the discipline, dedication and teamwork these young men had demonstrated made Ford proud to know them. That’s what makes you a winner on the field, at council, and in life. “Where are those blood thirsty reporters now?” Ford had thought. These kids deserved some recognition for their hard work, but a modern journalist’s job was to spread misery and ruin lives. Maybe he was glad they weren’t around after all.
And so with this whirlwind of a week behind him, Rob Ford – Mayor of Toronto, international celebrity, volunteer football coach and friend of the little guy – walked into his kitchen only to be greeted by his entire family. His wife and kids, Brother Doug and his niece Krista (the future of the Ford Dynasty?) and the rest of the gang had thrown him a modest surprise breakfast party.
“Well, what did I do to deserve this?”
“Thanks Rob, for everything you do,” they said in unison.
A tear welled in his eye as he glanced at his late father’s portrait. “Wow, thank you everyone,” he said. “I love you guys. No matter what happens out there, this is what it’s really all about.”