Inside the Wild World of Crack-Smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s Facebook Defenders
Fans of the embattled Toronto mayor are rallying behind their man on Facebook. Meet “Ford Nation,” where 15-year-olds call the shots and the rest of us are just “Manhattanite hipsters.”
There may never be another politicized group with this much Ford-itude.
As the rest of North America scoffs at the persistently outlandish behavior of Toronto’s infamous mayor Rob Ford, a loosely-knit group of supporters, some of whom refer to themselves as members of “Ford Nation,” are trying to stand up for their beloved leader through various social media networks.
The Facebook page “I Hate the War on Mayor Rob Ford” has the most active participation and following of any of its likeminded competitors. With over 3,000 likes—a far cry from the 21,000 likes an anti-Ford page has garnered, administrator Neil Flagg provides near-hourly updates on the status of the mayor and the political implosions surrounding him. Most recently a post described Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly as a “douchebag” for saying that the mayor had embarrassed Toronto. The rest of the page has a heavy emphasis on Ford’s crusade to restrict tax hikes for Toronto’s citizens as well as assaults on media outlets including The Toronto Star and Gawker.
Mr. Flagg declined to explain his opinions of the mayor more extensively and referred to me as “a Manhattanite hipster,” when asked for further comment.
Other pages with a significantly smaller following are attempting to dispel negative sentiment about Mr. Ford as well.
“Bring Back Rob Ford” is operated by 15-year-old Sebastian Bracker, a high school student in Toronto who became interested in the mayor after hearing his mother adamantly support him in their home.
“As I got more mature, I started to see that he was actually a good mayor,” Bracker said, noting Ford’s honesty as a factor which distinguished him from other politicians. Ford’s efforts to stop the proverbial “gravy train,” or tax hikes in the proposed 2014 Toronto budget, won Bracker’s support even more.
Bracker was not legally eligible to vote for Ford when he ran for mayor in 2010, but he has a fairly expansive knowledge of the tribulations that have enshrouded him this year.
“At first, I thought it was the media trying to get him out of office,” Bracker said of the initial allegations, later confirmed, that the mayor had smoked crack. “I lost a bit of credibility in him at that time, but at the same time, he has a life outside of being mayor. And as long as he’s doing his job as mayor while he’s working, I’m ok with that.”
Bracker said it was common knowledge that Ford has “a bit of a drinking problem,” but that it hasn’t been a clearly inhibiting factor in the governmental work he does.
His support is by no means an anomaly either; 39 percent of Toronto voters would consider voting for him again in the upcoming 2014 mayoral election.
“I would really like and I expect him to work on his bad habits such as alcohol and drugs,” Bracker said. “I mean if he could stop that, most of Toronto would agree with me that he should be reelected.”
Another page, simply titled “Support Rob Ford,” is run by a trio of administrators including 32-year-old David Harris, whose primary role is finding content about the mayor to post. That includes a most recent post titled “put that in your pipe and smoke that toronto silly council,” with a link to Ford’s surprisingly favorable poll numbers.
The page doesn’t have a huge following, but it is updated fairly consistently as Harris has been an adamant supporter of Ford, particularly his fiscal policy, since his days as City Councilor.
Harris hopes that the page can be a resource for constructive discourse among supporters leading up to next year’s election, at which time Harris hopes to vote for Ford once again.
“Unless some crazy thing happens, I can’t see why I wouldn’t,” Harris said. “Definitely he’s taken pictures with criminals, but name me a politician that hasn’t.”
A handful of other pages like these exist, including one which initially began as a joke called “Rob Ford for Prime Minister of Canada.” Now Rob Ford himself is a member of the group according to administrator, Korbett Matthews who says he is friends with the mayor.
No matter the wild and salacious antics that would irreparably mar any other politician’s public support, some people will always love Rob Ford. Enough so to even get his face permanently inscribed on their body.