Is There an Heir to Ford Nation after Rob Ford's Death? Experts Think Not

By Loriggio, Paola | The Canadian Press, March 25, 2016 | Go to article overview

Is There an Heir to Ford Nation after Rob Ford's Death? Experts Think Not


Loriggio, Paola, The Canadian Press


Is there an heir to Ford Nation?

--

TORONTO - Rob Ford's death has left his followers despairing at the loss of a man they saw as a champion for the everyman, and experts say there's no clear heir to take up the mantle and lead so-called Ford Nation.

Ford, who died this week from a rare and aggressive cancer, came from a political family and some have suggested his older brother Doug -- a former city councillor who ran for mayor in the last election -- would be the natural successor in the hearts of supporters.

But others say the elder Ford lacks the personal touch and the political timing his younger brother had, and there may be less of an appetite for the former mayor's populist brand of leadership when the next municipal election comes around in 2018.

Many of the forces that propelled Rob Ford to power six years ago remain, particularly the feeling that government doesn't care about average people, said Myer Siemiatycki, a political science professor at Ryerson University.

"There is a constituency there that can be politically mobilized," he said.

However, Siemiatycki added: "It's not a given that the next politician to galvanize and connect with that sentiment in Toronto is going to be either a member of the Ford family or someone with Rob Ford's politics."

Ford, who died at 46, rose to power as tensions between downtown and suburban residents reached a peak, harnessing a rising anti-elitist and anti-union movement by vowing to stop the public service "gravy train."

That, combined with his candour and his insistence on personally returning phone calls, endeared him to hordes of voters who appreciated his regular-guy image.

"Doug, I don't think, has that same people's touch or that same readiness to throw himself into kind of a Mr. Fix-It for whoever calls him," Siemiatycki said.

Without its original figurehead, it's possible Ford Nation will simply disperse, he added. …

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