Thousands gather to urge Mayor Ford's departure
On midday November 13, nearly 1200 Mayor Ford-inspired activists gathered in Nathan Phillips Square to call for the resignation of Mayor Ford. The lunchtime rally—organized by the the non-partisan group, Save Toronto—was moderated by University of Toronto graduate Nikki Thomas.
Initially, Thomas was forced to use two megaphones to be heard over the chanting led by several attendees with cymbals and drums, who led the crowd in song: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Rob Ford has got to go!”
While the crowd chanted in the square, Toronto councillors conducted a meeting inside City Hall to discuss the possibility of Mayor Ford taking a leave of absence, eventually voting 37-5 in favour of urging Mayor Ford to step down.
Save Toronto has gathered support quickly (they only started their campaign on November 4) using social media and donated media spaces, such as electronic media driven through the city on trucks.
Looking out upon the steadily growing crowd, event speaker and NOW film critic Norm Wilner, made an apt observation: the only positive outcome of Mayor Ford’s tenure has been that Torontonians have embraced activism.
Yet the organizers of the rally focused on social activism rather than political activism. Thomas stated that Save Toronto was approached by several councillors and politicians—whom she would not name—who wished to speak at the rally: “We said no because we didn’t want this to be about someone’s political beliefs, it is about calling attention to the issues at work here.”
Toronto activist Melvinder Singh addressed some of these issues at the rally that have been largely lost in the midst of more sensationalized Ford scandals—namely, the cuts Mayor Ford made to social services early in his tenure and Mayor Ford’s tendency toward homophobia.
Speaking about Mayor Ford's anti-inclusionary track-record, Singh prompted the audience: "The marginalization and the stigmatization of communities of colour, of gay communities, of communities at risk—when did that become okay?" To which the crowd rallied back, "Never!"
Singh encouraged the protesters—many clad in satirical Mayor Ford tee shirts and brandishing witty signage: "You have a choice, each and every one of you, you are not powerless. This is not a fiefdom. ... Tell [Mayor Ford] you don’t want him here anymore."
The Save Toronto rally concluded as the supporters turned towards City Hall and hurled a message to Mayor Ford, high in his tower: "You're fired! You're fired! You're fired!"
As protestors filed back to work, 1116 signed a petition urging Mayor Ford to resign and many left messages in chalk on the wall of City Hall. One literary-inclined critic referenced the tragedy of King Lear: "'Tis the times plague when madmen lead the blind."