by Hassan Reyes
For those many who identify with a progressive or liberatory politics, 2013 will be remembered as a year where two recognized leaders of the Left passed away.
One was still in his prime, having just won another election, and ambitiously continuing a national project of popular, socialist-oriented and democratic process of political decentralization coupled with a program of regional integration that went against the grain of corporate-led “free trade” projects. He died relatively young.
The other had been out of politics for a decade and a half, and although still a political reference point within his country, had not been a leading figure in its political landscape for sometime. Read more…
by Vanessa Alexander – 6 December 2013
Unlicensed childcare: It sounds scary, right? That’s what the media and the Ontario Government would have you believe. In fact, unlicensed childcare is all childcare that happens when there is no license: when your neighbour looks after your daughter while you run to the store, or when grandparents look after grandchildren for the weekend. It’s not scary, or it doesn’t have to be, because this means your childcare will be as good as the decisions you make as parents. If you give your children to a neighbour who looks after a few kids for income, you make a decision based on what you know. You know that they are unlicensed, but you know that you can trust them with your children. That’s not a scary decision. The scary part is when you have absolutely no childcare options.
Op-ed by Noaman G. Ali
The recent elections in Nepal appear to spell a heavy retreat for the country’s Maoist movement. After initiating a People’s War in 1996 that lasted ten years and saw it in control of the majority of the countryside, the popular Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) formed a front with mainstream political parties to overthrow the monarchy and institute a democratic republic in the 2006 People’s Movement. Thereafter, the CPN(Maoist) emerged as the largest party in the 2008 Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.
However, by November 19, 2013, the date of the second set of CA elections, the party had split into two factions that both appeared to have failed in their goals. On one hand, the reformist, electoral Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or UCPN(Maoist), lost much of its support and was reduced to third-party status in the new assembly. On the other hand, the election boycott called by the revolutionary Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) is alleged to have failed, seeing as there was a “record” turnout of voters (as we will see, the reality is more complex).
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist (UML), which despite its name does not pretend to have revolutionary or even broadly progressive politics, has come in second place after the Nepali Congress, whose politics is hard to tell apart from that of the UML. Their victory then seems like a gain for the right in Nepal.
But putting elections at the centre of our analysis can take away from understanding politics in Nepal. Dramatic changes in Nepal’s recent political history have occurred as a result of non-electoral politics that have often been spearheaded by or have involved considerable popular communist agitation. What’s more, Maoists came third in the 1991 elections (with 9 seats) and boycotted elections in 1994 and 1999, but that didn’t stop them from becoming the country’s largest and most influential political force by 2006.
Let us then turn to understanding four questions: First, what led to one Maoist faction engaging in elections and the other deciding to boycott the CA process in its entirety? Second, what were the reasons for the boycott called by the CPN-Maoist? Third, why did UCPN(Maoist) lose the elections? Fourth, was the CPN-Maoist boycott a failure?
by M. Cooke
MONTREAL – “We are foreign temporary workers, any day we could be expelled. That’s why we need a strong and flexible association” said Enrique Llanes, a temporary foreign worker from Spain
Enrique was speaking to a group of over 50 temporary foreign workers who had gathered in Montreal this past Saturday to launch the Temporary Foreign Workers Association (TFWA).
They had gathered not only to fight for their rights, but also for the over 300,000 temporary foreign workers currently in Canada and those who will come in future years.
Mohamed and Helena, temporary foreign workers from Tunisia and Spain, welcomed the workers at the start of the day.
“I would particularly like to thank you for your dedication despite the cold and the distance” said Mohamed.
The workers had come from throughout Quebec: the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, Chicoutimi, Quebec City, Montreal. These workers came from a range of industries including working as farmers, butchers, machinists, welders, translators, lab technicians among others.
Helena continued the introduction saying: “The obstacles temporary foreign workers face are infinite. The system is created to keep us misinformed and isolated”.
Shortly after, one after another, the workers introduced themselves and shared their experiences of working in Quebec.
One group of farm workers talked about recently discovering that their employer had withheld an average of 2 hours of wages per day for over 6 years.
Several workers complained about being tied to a single employer. One worker explained that the company had laid him off for 3 months, and due to his work permit he could not apply to other jobs, nor could he apply for employment insurance. He was forced to work under the table to survive.
In the legal workshop held earlier in the day, groups of workers shared stories about their employer forcing them to rent his apartments or else being fired.
Workers also shared stories of being told to apply as “single” despite being married and having children back home, putting their future plans to apply as permanent residents in jeopardy.
Other workers shared stories about language barriers. They were not allowed to take French courses and they could not access translation services at hospitals nor within some unions.
But these are only a few of the stories of what is happening throughout Quebec and Canada.
The number of temporary foreign workers has been steadily increasing in the past few years. In 2011, there were over 300 000 temporary foreign workers in Canada.
There has been a shift in the Canadian immigration system says Manon Perron, a union leader with the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN).
“Last week, I was in meetings with a top immigration bureaucrat and he told me that they are looking for workers, not citizens” said Manon Perron to the group of workers.
The temporary foreign worker programs are set up to bring cheap labour in to Canada. The workers work here for low wages and no benefits and once they are no longer needed, they are sent back to their countries.
In 2011 there were more temporary foreign workers than immigrants accepted into the country.
The launch of the Temporary Foreign Workers Association is a big step in challenging a program that is set-up to, as Helena said “keep [workers] misinformed and isolated”.
The association will provide workers with access to legal aid clinics, workshops on labour rights, as well as translation services.
In addition, the association will fight to address the policies that lead to the issues faced by foreign temporary workers. The association hopes to win access to employment insurance and health care, open work permits, easier access to apply for permanent residency, as well as the right to unionize.
Despite the obstacles the workers face, there was something electric about having workers from throughout the province meet with each other and begin building an association that would break the isolation and fight for their rights.
By the Hugo Chavez People’s Defense Front
As Venezuela faces yet another attempt by the Right-wing opposition to create political, economic and social turmoil in the wake of the upcoming municipal electoral process, the Hugo Chávez People’s Defense Front of Canada, organized a 5 City speaking tour with Katrina Kozarek from the Comuna Socialista Ataroa in Lara, Venezuela. According to organizers, the purpose of this tour was not only to bring attention to the renewed destabilization campaign against Venezuela, but also to show exactly what this process of building peoples power in Venezuela looks like from the ground.
According to Santiago Escobar, of Barrio Nuevo and the Hugo Chavez People’s Defense Front, the speaking tour had the intention “to promote the accomplishments of the Bolivarian revolution, especially the socialist communes, which are concrete experiences of popular power from below and to the left, also with the intention of creating a network for educational and information interchange as an alternative to the information created by mass corporate media”.
Since 2006 Venezuela has begun to create a new ‘geometry of power’ in an effort to deepen and fortify the Bolivarian Revolution. This has meant the application of direct democracy through participation in economic, social and political planning and decision making from the grassroots, local organizations building towards a ‘communal state’.
At the neighbourhood level, laws were passed providing guidelines for the people to organize themselves into communal councils comprising of up to 400 families in a defined geographic area. Once formed through a democratic process that invites and includes all people living in this area, the communal council decides the identity of the area (including the name), elects spokespeople and defines the neighbourhood priorities. Importantly, it can also obtain funds in order to meet its assessed needs. Since the passing of the Law of Communal Councils in 2006, over 33 000 communal councils have been registered and over $2 Billion transferred from the central government directly to these communities for projects ranging from repairing of stairs and roads, to neighbourhood sports facilities, to cooperatives producing shoes and bricks.
In 2010, the Law of Communes was passed, which outlined the process for neighbouring communal councils to come together to take greater control over their area. Over 1100 communes have been registered to date.
Kozarek, who is part of the Ataroa Socialist Commune which comprises a territory which includes roughly 30 000 families, describes the communes “as the primary defense strategy of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela that promises to bring the country to the point of no return towards a truly democratic, and socialist future, creating an infrastructure for direct participation from a grassroots level, as well as promoting local and national production and self-sustainability.”
Kozarek acknowledged the fact that this process is still in construction and that capacity of Venezuela to resist the economic and other forms of sabotage is extremely important for the future of Venezuela and all of the countries and popular movements that have come together under the platform of the Bolivarian Alternative of Our America (ALBA) to resist imperialism in the region and build a model that moves away from neoliberalism.
The tour started off in the University of Toronto on the 7th of November, passing through Guelph University, Centro Hispano de York, Kitchener, Ottawa and finishing off in Montreal. The diversity of organizations, individuals and groups that participated in the events, joined in the call to participate in a solidarity social network created by community media and social movements of ALBA in Venezuela, called the Cayapa Communicacional, to share information and counter-act the opinions and information disseminated by the opposition and their supporters on an international level.
by Steve da Silva
Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have boycotted the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka last week, but he still managed to reach the summit of hypocrisy.
Harper confirmed in October that it was with “somewhat of a heavy heart” he would be boycotting the meeting due to Sri Lanka’s human rights record, the specifics of which he was vague. Harper cited extra-judicial killings and the ongoing intimidation and incarceration of political opponents and journalists as reasons, but he remained made no direct reference to Tamils, the genocide they experienced in 2009, and the ongoing oppression they face in Sri Lanka.
Of course, media sources (here, and here) in Canada were quick to pick up on the fact that the diplomatic move was a clear gesture to Canada’s Tamil population, the largest Tamil diaspora in the world with nearly 300,000 people. Toronto is now home to the majority of this population, with a very active community in ridings that the Conservatives would like to cultivate a base in.
Toronto-area Tamil activist and BASICS occasional correspondent Pragash Pio, who has long supported Indigenous people’s struggles in Canada and has worked to develop relations of solidarity between the Haudenosaunee nation (of Six Nations) and the Tamil community, told BASICS that “Harper’s criticisms of Sri Lanka’s Human Rights record and subsequent ‘boycott’ of the [Commonwealth meeting] in Sri Lanka is electoral opportunism and political hypocrisy. Tamil’s make up a significant voting bloc in key ridings in Toronto and are known to be a well organized community with higher then average voter turn out and Harper’s is courting them with this personal boycott.”
Sri Lanka shot back last week, with government officials reported to be citing Harper’s move as a way to placate Tamil Tiger activists in Canada. A ridiculous charge, to be sure, considering that Canada has prosecuted people with alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and even dismissed that a genocide ever occurred in 2009 (as this would place Canada under obligations to recognize the country’s refugees). However, cultivating a Conservative base of support amongst Tamils – that’s another thing entirely.
In 2009, the Sri Lankan state has launched a war of annihilation on its minority Tamil population that consisted of a 5-month campaign of indiscriminate shelling and bombing of the north coast, which is home to a majority of the Tamils. The campaign included the deliberate targeting of safe zones, hospitals and schools. The outcome was the death of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, even if the main objective was the decimation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which many Tamils recognized as their legitimate national organization. Civilians that survived the government onslaught were forced into detention, and some 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were imprisoned in state-run concentration camps.
For its part, the Canadian government aided Sri Lanka in this war by adding the LTTE to its list of designated terrorist organizations in 2006, and days later raided the offices of the World Tamil Movement, which it also listed as a terrorist organization in 2008. During the course of the genocide, Canada sent aid money to Sri Lanka and demonized Tamils in Canada who were in the streets as “terrorist supporters” for trying to bring attention to the killings in their homeland. Refugees desperately fleeing the genocide were halted, and the claims to be refugees were dismissed as frivolous.
Pio was in Vancouver (Coast Salish territories) this past week speaking alongside Indigenous, Palestinian and other solidarity activists at a series of events called “Criminalizing People’s Liberation Movements: Scrap the So-called Terrorist List.” The events also featured Toghestiy, a hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en nation who has been involved in the Unis’tot’en Camp. In an interview with BASICS over the phone, Pio also linked Tamil oppression to Canada’s treatment of Indigenous people: “There is also the hypocrisy of the Canadian state accusing the Sri Lankan state of human rights abuses against the Tamil Nation such as land theft, torture, illegal detention, and systematic sexual violence against women when the Canadian state has similar patterns of abuse against First Nations.”
While some Tamils may have appreciated the little boost that Harper’s boycott may have given to their struggle for the recognition of the 2009 genocide, Pio sees it differently: “There has been no significant change in the Canadian state’s position on Tamil refugees, deportations to Sri Lanka, and illegal detentions. The CBSA is rigorously contesting in hearings the status of many of the Tamil refugees who arrived by the MV Sun Sea and MV Ocean Lady. There are two cases of deported refugees being tortured, and one murdered because of the CBSA’s collusion with the Sri Lankan security in labeling en masse Tamil refugees as terrorists and security threats has already been discovered.
Canada’s boycott of the Commonwealth summit is especially hypocritical in the face of Canada’s dismissal of some of the findings and recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Ayana, who toured First Nations communities and met with Indigenous nations in early October. Anaya issued strong criticisms of Canada’s “adversarial approach” to land claims, the ongoing issue of missing and murdered native women, and Canada’s rushing ahead with the First Nations Education Act. Canada has also continued to resist calls for an Inquiry into missing and murdered, which was among Anaya’s recommendations.
by Laura Lepper for the Two Row Times
On October 29th, 2013, Darlene Necan, elected spokesperson of the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen no. 258, was issued issued a stop work order by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for building a house on land where her family grew up, on off-reserve Saugeen territory (unorganized Indian settlement land).
In August 2013, Necan and community members had begun building a plywood house in Savant Lake, Saugeen territory in order for her to have a home for the winter and an office/gathering place to help her lead a struggle for housing and equal rights for off-reserve members of her community.
This building was supported by the Indigenous Commission of the International League of People’s Struggles, many grassroots activists, and several locals of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Read more…
by Hassan Reyes
It has been an bizarre week in the City of Toronto.
The ‘Big Smoke’ has turned into the ‘Big Joke’, with the Rob Ford ‘crack’ scandal being ridiculed globally, from the Daily Show, Colbert Report, odd Taiwanese animations, and mixed into a surprisingly catchy autotune. It’s easy to see how this entire spectacle can be funny, especially from the outside. Who could resist a chuckle, hearing Ford explain his crack use and general debauchery by saying that he was “in a drunken stupor”? Throw in a couple of retired wrestlers, and you have the makings of a perfect political parody.
It would be great if this entire situation could just be laughed off, but there are some harsh realities that this situation has brought to light. As people continue to react and discuss the implications of Mayor Rob Ford’s crack use admission and the meltdown of Toronto municipal politics, a few commonly expressed opinions among those of us who oppose Ford, that need to be challenged.
1. “People who elected and support Ford are stupid!”
Even before ‘crackgate’, some people who dislike or disagree with Ford have commented on the ‘stupidity’ of those who voted for or support Ford. What’s worse, immigrant-heavy, lower-income areas in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke have been identified as key areas of Ford support and votes. Aside from the fact that these areas are also where abstention rates are amongst the highest (such as Ward 7 and 8, where 55% of eligible voters stayed home), the conclusion becomes that Ford’s victory is attributable to ignorant, poor, new immigrants.
First of all, let’s review the 2010 municipal elections. In the lead up to 2010, Rob Ford did indeed make a name for himself with ignorant public outbursts and opinions. His comments about cyclists being at fault if they were run over by cars and ‘orientals taking over’, or his harassment of Star columnist John Barber in Council Chambers are only a few examples among a long and shameful list. At the same time Ford also became known as a politician who would personally respond to people’s calls and concerns, regularly making personal visits with City staff to attend to people’s issues. He was also very public in criticizing the ‘excesses’ at City Hall, which not only ironically included attacking harm reduction and rehabilitation programs for drug users, but also included attacking Councillor pay increases, office budgets, and perks. One of Ford’s notable crusades included denouncing the $12,000 retirement party that former Councillor Kyle Rae threw for himself using his office budget. This was at a time when people were being told that they needed to tighten their belts as well as cough up more money in TTC fares, user fees, property taxes and other newly imposed taxes. Thus, Ford presented himself as a people’s champion, exposing political hypocrisy and personally attending to people. Ford continued calling for better management of City finances and promised that no cuts to services would take place (one of his many lies, of course).
Ford’s opposition, on the other hand, did not have a contrasting vision or approach, at least none that was believable or addressed many of the growing concerns of the people. Former Deputy Premier George Smitherman was associated, as the former Minister of Health for Ontario, with the eHealth scandal, which was being portrayed as a $1 Billion waste. Smitherman, and former Liberal Party National Director Rocco Rossi, were open and enthusiastic about cutting public spending and looking at privatizations. In their plans and ideas, Smitherman and Rossi were not that different from Ford but they lacked the credibility among the people that Ford had earned through his approach.
On the ‘left’ Joe Pantalone, Miller’s Deputy Mayor, ran a lacklustre campaign directed mostly at Toronto’s downtown, urbanite residents, and presented himself as a continuation of the Miller administration. By this point, Miller’s administration had been effectively painted by the media as entitled political elites who misspent the public’s money (which incidents like Kyle Rae’s farewell party seemed to confirm).
Given such options, does a vote for Ford seem all that irrational, let alone stupid?
Ford’s ‘respect the taxpayer’ mantra was and is popular, precisely because it speaks to people’s feelings of being ignored, ripped off, and abused by political elites in government. People have suffered the cutbacks and deterioration of social programs and services, while scandal after political scandal unfolds throughout the country. In Ontario, the Liberal government emerged from the eHealth and Ornge scandal only to waste another $1Billion on canceled power plants, allegedly to not risk losing key political ridings during the election. At the Federal level, the supposedly frugal Harper Conservatives wasted $1 Billion on the G20, and their Senators got caught red-handed claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses from tax payers. Everyday people feel more squeezed by the economic recession, falling further into debt while seeing their taxes being misspent by politicians fixing deals for themselves, as the Senate spending scandal only confirmed.
Unfortunately, there has not been a mainstream political voice calling out this treachery while directing people’s frustration at the political structures, including the politicians and parties, that are driving the neoliberal agenda to enable the rich to become richer at the expense of public resources. Rob Ford’s populist message and approach then tapped the legitimate and growing grievances of the people who saw him, incorrectly, as a working class hero and political outsider.
Ultimately, the argument that Ford voters and supporters were stupid is not only extremely patronizing and elitist, but it also misreads many peoples views on municipal politics and politics in general. It also doesn’t acknowledge the failures of those who consider ourselves ‘progressive’, since we have been unable to engage meaningfully with huge sections of the working class in this City. It’s this vacuum – the lack of a progressive, let alone of a revolutionary political alternative, that Ford has been able to fill.
2. “Ford needs to step away, get cleaned up and then come back to serve his term”
Many people have expressed some level of sympathy for Ford on a human level. This is understandable given how common drug and alcohol abuse is in this country. Health Canada estimates that 4 to 5 million people in Canada engage in high risk drinking while a 2009 survey estimated that 1.2% of the adult population – or roughly 310 000 people – had consumed cocaine or crack. Unfortunately, many people have had to deal with substance abuse or know someone who has. The impulse then to feel sympathy for Ford and his family (including his wife and two children) is understandable. Rob Ford, the person, does need help and support.
However, Rob Ford the Mayor and politician, needs to be mercilessly attacked. His political brand, which includes that of his brother and advisor, Councillor Doug Ford, need to be exposed for what it is – a hypocritical attempt to use the ‘economic recession’ to further attack and exploit working people and communities. The Fords have been unrelenting in their attempts to cut social programs while also trying to present all financial and efficiency problems in the City as the ‘abuses’ of public sector workers and unions. At the same time the Fords have been defenders of other abuses, such as the Toronto Police arresting and attacking 1118 protestors at the G20, with Rob Ford stating that he had “very little sympathy for the people who were down there and I support our police.”
Rob Ford, Doug Ford, and their deceased father Douglas Ford, a former MPP in the Mike Harris government, have consistently demonstrated this throughout their political careers. The Harris Government of Douglas Ford showed little mercy to those on social assistance when they implemented a 22% cut, one of the many brutal cuts implemented during their so-called common sense revolution. The Ford political agenda have been unsympathetic to working communities impacted by the program cuts they championed, or to the public sector workers that they have continually and relentless labelled as lazy, entitled, and overpaid.
In return, no mercy should be shown to the political careers of these individuals at a time when their credibility and integrity are finally being questioned by the public. Quite the contrary, this is the perfect time to engage people, particularly those who express support for Ford’s agenda, to highlight the fact that what Ford’s agenda has actually meant so far is $23 million in increased user fees including TTC fare hikes and $73 million in program cuts.
Going after the Ford’s isn’t about revenge (as sweet as that is, admittedly), but rather a sober calculation to ensure that the Ford political monster is decapitated once and for all while exposing the political project that they are a part of. There are several politicians including Karen Stintz and John Tory who are attacking Ford the politician, while promising to continue his right-wing policies. For his part, Doug Ford has been preparing himself to run for office provincially for the Conservative Party. The popularity of the Ford political brand, if not dealt with appropriately, could recover and lead more attacks on working people at other levels of government.
Any talk of having him go away and return fails to recognize that both Ford’s ideals and his career are in danger. In addition to their crass display of arrogance, deceit, and hypocrisy, there is also a growing amount of evidence revealing them to have sinister connections. By this, I am not referring to those youth he has pictured with, but rather, the elements that are behind the guns and drugs in Toronto neighbourhoods.
This leads to the last opinion which needs to be challenged.
3. “We need to move on from discussing the crack issue and focus on Next Elections/’City Building’/Municipal Reform/Etc.”
Far from moving on to other subjects, there is a desperate need to look closer at what this scandal has actually revealed. Indeed, the focus of this story needs to shift from the comedic to the tragic.
There are still few answer regarding the murder of Anthony Smith and shooting of Mohammad Khattak as well as Hanad Hussein’s sixth-storey ‘fall’ from a building in Edmonton. Smith and Khattak where in the infamous photo of Ford in front of the crack house, while Hussein lived in the same apartment as the man arrested for Smith’s murder. All three have a connection to the Ford video and Project Traveller, and a mounting number of press articles are starting to mention these acts of violence in relation to the Ford case. This includes the communications between Ford and some of his shady associates on the day after Smith’s murder.
While we cannot speculate yet as to what involvement Ford might have had in all this violence, there are too many connections to Ford for this to be ignored. Recently, allegations have emerged about the involvement of crime syndicates in retrieving the video, including threats to the lives of those attempting to broker its sale, as well as the shocking conclusion of an Ontario judge that the former spouse of Ford’s sister was viciously beaten in jail for threatening the Ford family.
Without a doubt, there is a growing urgency to know the truth about all of this. The public needs to know about the connection between Ford and these events, and what connection organized crime has with those in power. It is far more important to understand Ford’s role in a murder and two attempted murders than it is to know about his potential addictions or whereabouts during a Council meeting. This should be the prime concern now, and the story should not be dropped, forgotten, or misdirected until this becomes clear.
A scandal involving one guy’s use of crack cocaine is developing into a scandal about the stark and frightening reality about the sources of violence in this city, their methods, and their relationship to power. More frightening is the prospect that this could only be the tip of the iceberg.
By Michael Romandel
On November 7, 2013 thestar.com posted a video of Rob Ford talking about professional wrestling while appearing drunk or high on some substance. Ford stated later that he was “very, very inebriated at the time“. The media seem to be having a field day with this footage, including commentators and callers on Newstalk 1010 seriously discussing whether or not he is actually uttering death threats in the video. However, its seems that all this commentary without the slightest understanding of what the video is about. To someone familiar with the genre of professional wrestling, the video is clearly about Rob Ford envisioning himself in a pro wrestling match against an unnamed opponent (Professional wrestling of course, being a fake performance art with amateur wrestling being a real Olympic sport). The news response to the video has also shown that the mainstream media in Toronto know absolutely nothing about professional wrestling despite often attempting to cover professional wrestling and Rob Ford. In a way, Rob Ford has become a kind of wrestling character at this point, as shown by his arm wrestling match with Hulk Hogan earlier this year, where Hogan joked that he was going to beat Ford and take his job, as if the mayorship is a pro wrestling champion belt.
The video opens with “No holds barred” which is a sport metaphor often used for actual serious fighting, but in a pro wrestling context means that you are allowed to use chairs, you are allowed to go out of the ring for an unlimited amount of time and you aren’t confined to the normal “rules” of professional wrestling. He says : I need f–king 10 minutes to make sure he’s dead. It’ll be over in five minutes, brother…10 minutes. This means he will need a full 15 minutes for the wrestling match which take different lengths depending on how dramatic they are. Ford and shows a great deal of knowledge about professional wrestling by saying at the end of the video he will ‘I’ll call it’. In wrestling to “call” the match, means he will be the one in charge of choreographing the match on the fly, whispering in the other guys ear while the wrestling is happening what the next move will be as the moves are decided live. This is the kind of stuff only long-term wrestling fans who actually study professional wrestling ever figure out or understand. He also says “If I win, I will f-ing donate” which makes sense in the context of a match but not a real altercation, and “these kids are pros buddy”. The real reason the video is embarrassing is because it shows just how much of a huge wrestling nerd he is, as he seems to fantasize about having pro-wrestling matches while he is inebriated. He is also fantasizing wrestling moves during the video.
In any case, the new video of Rob Ford which has been interpreted as the mayor pretending to beat someone to death is basically him working out the details of some kind of fantasy professional wrestling match while ‘inebriated’, as he put it, and nothing more. He is clearly not actually angry at anyone in any real sense, which is what many people seem to believe the video shows thus far. This might be a failure to understand the culture of the inner suburbs of Toronto, where professional wrestling was big in the 1980s and 1990s, and where many men of a certain age would understand the new video to be about professional wrestling.
Related to this new video in the Rob Ford scandal, The Iron Sheik, a professional wrestling legend from the 1980s, has challenged Rob Ford to an arm wrestling match. Interestingly, the Iron Sheik knows crack cocaine addiction very well. He struggled with this for many years and finally quit just a few years ago after an incident in Toronto in which he fell into a “drug and alcohol induced stupor” before a baseball card show he was supposed to appear at and suffered a minor heart attack.
When Rob Ford won a staged arm wrestling match with Hulk Hogan last August, and The Iron Sheik was one of the first to comment on twitter afterward, criticizing Hogan for his loss. It seems that Sheik wants to do what Hogan couldn’t do, and beat Ford at an arm wrestling match. He also seems to be displeased with the Mayor, saying “the young people, the old people, they don’t respect him” in regard to Ford. Sheik has come out in the past against Hogan for being hypocritical about drug use, especially in the 1980s when Hogan’s public persona was extremely clean and he was used by the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) to support just say no programs and campaigns. Maybe he sees a similar problem with Ford.
Brutus “The Barber’ Beefcake, another former wrestling star, showed up at City Hall on Thursday. According to The Toronto Sun Brutus said “I just watched a video and (Ford) was completely out of his mind. He needs, help he needs an intervention…I am going to be his angel of mercy” before continuing in a more serious vein “I buried 25 of my best friends from drugs and alcohol and I’m trying to spread the word for people to get rid of that s—, get healthy, work out, get your mind and body together, and live a better life”.
We will have to wait and see where the professional wrestling side of this Ford scandal will go or whether anyone outside some men in bungalow basements and apartments in the inner suburbs will know it is even happening. Interestingly, in wrestling culture Toronto in particular is a city that has always been known to cheer for bad guys or ‘heels’ in wrestling at live events. Rob Ford is definitely a kind of ‘heel’ in his persona as Mayor. This may also explain some of his continued popularity in the inner suburbs with men of a certain age, as he really still connects with a certain group of largely working class men.