Oh Canada!

The Man Who Almost Became Toronto’s Crazy Mayor

January 07, 2014

Multiple Pages
The Man Who Almost Became Toronto’s Crazy Mayor

George Smitherman is supposed to be the mayor of Toronto.

During the 2010 election, the former deputy premier was the liberal elite’s standard-bearer. Sure, his name was attached to a few sordid, multi-million-dollar political disasters, but that’s true of pretty much every career politician of any stripe.

He was—in the tradition of the city’s slew of progressive mayors—smoothly well spoken and unfailingly presentable, if occasionally cranky. He was the cool kind of bald.

And most importantly, he was gay.

In 2007, Smitherman and his “husband,” Christopher Peloso, were “married” in a “traditional aboriginal ceremony.” They promptly adopted two children.

How could he possibly lose?

“I can’t be the only Torontonian who’s postponing their own suicide so I can see how this race turns out.”

The polls closed at 8PM. Literally a few minutes later, Rob Ford—fat, clumsy, inarticulate, suburban, stubborn; married to a woman in a ceremony that included neither an eagle feather nor smudge; a father the old-fashioned way, however unpalatable that notion might be—was declared the winner. In fact, the result was what passes these days for a landslide: Ford received just over 51% of the vote to Smitherman’s 31%.

The elites were dumbfounded and furious.

Led by the Toronto Star, there began an all-out “get Ford” campaignlegal machinations, anonymous rumors, lawsuits, weird (and in one case, misinterpreted) cell-phone videos, borderline stalking, and satirical sketches (sometimes combined)—that eventually erupted into one of the biggest international stories of 2013, the details of which are all too familiar.

Meanwhile, Smitherman faded into the background, taking up the type of semi-imaginary jobs—“broadcaster,” “consultant”—befitting his rank and making the usual noises about spending more time with his awfully 21st-century family.

Then a police dog found his “husband” curled up near some railway tracks.

The day before, on September 10 of last year, Smitherman had reported Peloso missing. Wall-to-wall local media coverage led some to mutter that the disappearance of a lowlier adult civilian would never have garnered such attention or witnessed such a large and speedy outlay of police resources.

Were drugs involved? Smitherman and Peloso had met on Toronto’s gay scene, and the former fairly boasted about his one-time addiction to “party drugs,” contrasting himself favorably to that tacky crack smoker Ford.

Whatever prompted Peloso’s brief peregrinations, they were more or less forgotten as the Ford saga chugged along.

Then Peloso wandered off again. This time, the outcome was tragic.

On December 30, Peloso was found dead, a suicide. In his official statement, Smitherman said he would “find comfort somehow in knowing that [Peloso] has found peace from the depression that has wreaked havoc on his mind.”

Now, I’m as tired of playing “Imagine If” as anybody else is. You know: the game where we play “Imagine if…Rush Limbaugh had joked about Mitt Romney’s black grandson.” Or “Imagine if Dennis Miller had called a former Democratic governor a ‘fucking jackoff cunt-face jazzy wondergirl’ with ‘a family of chinese [sic] poor people living in her cunt hole.’” Visit the Drudge Report at random and you’ll find a fresh, fitting example.

But this time? The questions wrote themselves. A few folks were brave enough to ask them.

Broadcaster Ezra Levant sent out a series of Tweets stating what we normal, ordinary people used to be able to call “the obvious,” such as:

If this were Rob Ford’s family, we’d have a Media Party drug-by-drug, minute-by-minute tick-tock of the deadly dysfunction.

His colleague Michael Coren weighed in:

George a former drug addict, Peloso with mental health issues; yet they’re allowed to adopt. Odd!

The liberal elite reacted swiftly, predictably, and without a smidgen of irony or self-awareness. Levant and Coren duly doubled down.

Coren noted that gay Liberal Party speechwriter turned Maclean’s apparent new ombud of online compassion and civility, Adam Goldenberg, had recently responded to Coren’s column on the worldwide massacre of Christians with mean-spirited sarcasm.

“Let’s be honest,” Levant Tweeted. “This unhappy fate is what the Media Party lusted for (and worked for) for Rob Ford instead.” He reminded readers that 24 hours after his “husband” had been “found in a ditch” the first time, Smitherman had been out “partying” with a Liberal MP-elect.

This time? “Smitherman invited the [Toronto] Star into his home as he prepared for his husband’s funeral.”

A few days earlier, City Hall saw a 20% increase in the number of citizens at the New Year’s Day levée, a traditional meet-and-greet with the mayor. Clips I spotted on the local news showed that evil divisive racist out-of-touch crackhead Rob Ford grinning and shaking hands with delighted-looking black and white and Asian Torontonians. How many were gay, I don’t know.
The previous day, Ford was the first to file his papers for this year’s municipal election. If Smitherman runs again, he’ll likely split the “candidate with a tragically dead spouse” vote with Jack Layton’s widow and fellow lefty, Olivia Chow.

I can’t be the only Torontonian who’s postponing their own suicide so I can see how this race turns out.


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