One of the things I like to do (for some reason) is to go through writings of SunMedia and look to see just how ridiculous they can get. One such article grabbed my attention: Sue-Ann Levy’s “Ford’s Big Step” form December 3rd. When it comes to hearing right wing story twisting, Levy is always a good source. After all, she did once call herself “the Queen of Spin”. I think it’s a good name, it openly declares one’s intention to deliberate distort the facts of an event. In true Levy fashion this article certainly does do so.
Her topic was Rob Ford’s ouster as mayor of Toronto. That’s not a criticism, the entire city is talking about it, and it’s a big deal. Add to the fact that the Toronto Sun is basically Ford’s personal propaganda organ and there’s no perceivable way this subject will not be talked about. Knowing these facts I was intrigued to see what she was going to say on the matter.
“It was curiosity that drove me to spend two hours Sunday reviewing the record of the February council meeting that led to a leftist contrived coup against the mayor and his impending ouster.”
Well, she certainly starts off with spin, resorting to a conspiracy theory right away. The ouster of Rob Ford is due to his own actions, actions that he himself chose and no one forced him into making. Ford chose to take money for his football team and he chose not to give the money back when he was ordered to. That is not a leftist plot that is a poor choice of actions on the part of Ford. After this he evidence that it was a conspiracy is the Integrity Commissioner reminding council that Ford had not yet paid his debt to society by returning the money.
With that poor Ford was (apparently) accosted by that same Integrity Commissioner with six letters reminding him to pay the $3,150 back. Eventually the mayor responded by saying that the donors of the money did not wish to have it returned. So you can see what kind of a bind Ford was in. I’d simply ask the Integrity Commissioner what to do with the money if they wouldn’t take it back. He made no such move, which was a bad idea. If you’re being hounded by authority, as Levy suggests, then you would place the onus on what to do in the hands of that same authority.
“When the debate began with an attempt by Giorgio Mammoliti to put an end to Leiper’s effort to exact a pound of flesh from Ford, Deputy Speaker John Parker was chairing the proceedings.
At no time did Parker or City Clerk Ulli Watkiss suggest that Ford leave the council chamber or caution him that he might have a conflict – even though they are supposed to do so.”
So I guess the six letters from the Integrity Commissioner were not enough to remind Ford that he was in conflict and needed to repay the money. Who knows? Maybe they told him in private off the record. Still they should have brought it up and told him publicly. But it’s not like he actually needed it, he did have the six letters after all.
If this is indeed true and I think it is, then Watkiss did not do her job and that matter should be looked into as well. I hardly see how her failing in her task is justification for Rob Ford not doing his. He is the mayor and should know better than that. This is a blatant attempt by Levy to pass responsibility Ford has for his actions onto others. The rest of the article expands upon this as well as making other non-sequitur defences. Ford is guilty, not just literally, but legally as well. The right wing reactionary media machine has to find some way to blame this on the left and make excuses for Ford’s actions.
“No doubt Ford’s speech – in which he explains how many high schools he’s helped since 2000 – infuriated the leftist leeches all the more, just as they had reacted to Ford’s use of his own money for office expenses when he was a councillor…
“I’ll bet they didn’t much like being reminded that Ford has helped high school football teams throughout the city (maybe even in their own wards) and that he planned to continue fundraising until there’s a team in every single school in the city.”
So basically Levy’s claim is that “the left” doesn’t like Ford and have an agenda out to get him because he donated money to football programs? This doesn’t make any sense at all. She accuses the so-called left of wanting to make programs for people, so why would they be against Ford doing this? It’s a total non-sequitur. Is she insane that she thinks football programs somehow enrage the left? The baseless assertion is that the mayor was attacked for creating football teams. I can think of no conceivable reason why he would be attacked for this. What Levy is really doing is creating a false atmosphere of persecution around Ford in order to deflect from what he has done wrong. This claim has no bearing on Ford’s refusal to give money back he was ordered too.
“She [Paula Fletcher] went on to contend that if council voted not to require Ford to repay the $3,150, there will no longer be any consequences and it will become the ‘Wild, Wild West’ again at City Hall.”
Is this hyperbole? Yes. Is something like this probable? Is it even likely to happen? Yes. I’m not sure what kind of society Levy thinks we live in, but this is capitalism. This system is dominated by and serves the interests of capital. One of the biggest problems with it is that the people and capital have conflicting interests, that’s why there is always a push between the two; it’s class contradiction. The truth is business funds all parties and candidates, be they municipal, provincial or federal. People know what kind of devastating effects takes place when business is allowed to rule unchallenged. Business able to have it’s a way with City Hall is bad. In capitalism this cannot be eliminated. But it can be curbed as much as possible.
“Is this the same Paula Fletcher who to the end of July donated out of the public purse (her office budget) $500 to the East York Baseball Assn., $100 to a Hasting Avenue Street Party and $200 to project Neutral, a neighbourhood summit. If that isn’t vote-buying I don’t know what is.”
This argument is a complete non-sequitur. This an obvious attempt to “appeal to hypocrisy” by claiming actions taken by Rob Ford are similar to some taken by Fletcher. This is illogical in two ways. One, her actions whatever they may or may not have been, have no bearing on the actions taken by Ford. Nothing she did in anyway compelled Ford to refuse to give back the money he was order to return. Second, this is not hypocritical because she did not do what Ford did. Ford took money from private business so those businesses could get favour with a politician (the mayor). Fletcher spent public money on public projects. These are two different things, one is money used to influence government and the other is public money spent on the public. It’s supposed to be spent on the public. No Levy, you don’t know what is.
The accusation that she is trying to “buy votes” is simply fallacious. If using state money to purchase things for the public is “buying votes”, then Ford’s spending of private money isn’t really different. Him buying things for the public isn’t “vote buying” as well? If anything it would be private business buying votes for a candidate to carry out their interests. On this level her argument is not only fallacious but also contradictory.
To finish her ineffective defence of Rob Ford’s actions, she uses the worst argument of them all.
“…one more thing as the mayor faces a court hearing into a possible ‘stay of execution’ this week: Disliking a mayor does not constitute grounds for dismissal.”
No Levy, he did not go on trial in a popularity contest, he went on trial for conflict of interest and lost.