If nothing else, communications practitioners in Toronto are in for four years of lively debate. Is our new mayor a genius, a buffoon, disrespectful or a breath of fresh air?
Yesterday’s theatre, starring Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry, is the first scene in what is sure to be a lively four-year production. For those who missed it, Cherry set the stage in his remarks by calling out Ford’s opponents, labelling them “pinkos”, “left-wing kooks” and the biggest insult of all, “bicycle riders”.
These theatrics overshadowed Mayor Ford’s more conciliatory speech. Did you even hear about it? Not really. All the media coverage, buzz and chatter were about Cherry. As Media Profile’s founder Patrick Gossage says, you get the media you deserve. Patrick’s point – and he is correct – is that Ford’s decision to have someone controversial, someone colourful and someone whose tone is in stark contrast to the one you attempted to set, handed over control of the message. For fun, Google “Rob Ford Inauguration Speech.” It’s all about Don Cherry.
Go back in time seven years. New Mayor David Miller chose Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, a respected Conservative, to give him the chain of office. Choosing someone of stature and of a different political stripe sent a message that the new Mayor wanted non-partisan cooperation on Council. And it was Miller’s own remarks, not McMurtry’s presence that carried the day and set a tone of optimism for that first term of office.
Has Cherry really set the tone for the next four years? We’ll see. A new Mayor does have the responsibility of delivering on a mandate. And while Toronto did elect him Mayor, they also elected a slew of “left-wing pinko kooks” to represent them. Let the curtain rise, sit back and enjoy the play. It will, at the very least, be highly entertaining.