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How the National Post sold Rob Ford

"Rob Ford is the best choice for Toronto." So spoke the headline topping the National Post's editorial advising voters whom they should make their mayor in autumn of 2010.

Why Ford? Fiscal restraint. "Policy-wise, Toronto very much needs a proverbial bull in the china shop. A great many precious, expensive things at City Hall need shattering…"

True, Ford's opponent George Smitherman was "also running on a fiscal-reform platform." But the Post's editors didn’t trust him to carry through. They shuddered at the fact that he'd been endorsed by Justin Trudeau. They called Smitherman "the consummate Liberal" who "might run from the moderate right in order to capitalize on the zeitgeist, and then simply collapse to the status quo if elected: begging Queen’s Park and Ottawa for crumbs, refusing to fight the tough spending battles lest the unions revolt, content to watch the city self-righteously stagnate for another four years rather than risk losing his job."

"This cannot be allowed to happen, and we believe that Mr. Ford won’t let it happen…"

Of course, telling citizens whom they should elect is pretty serious business. "We do not arrive at this decision lightly," the editorialists allowed.

And so it needed to be said: "Mr. Ford is not an ideal candidate."

For example, The National Post's fiscal favourite was not very good with numbers. Ford had "repeatedly claimed" that bike lanes he opposed cost $6 million when in fact, as the Post noted, he was off by a factor of 100 -- "they cost 1% of that."

Then there was the matter of what the Post's editors described as "Mr. Ford's penchant for bumptious behaviour."

In a mayor, bumptious behaviour had the potential to embarrass the citizens who elected him and the editorialists who told them to do so.

"Toronto needs Mr. Ford to pursue his agenda doggedly, not recklessly. But we believe he’s serious when he pledges -- as he did in a recent meeting with our editorial board -- that the most egregious of his gaffes are behind him…"

With that assurance in hand, the National Post's brass handed down their prescription for better days in Canada’s largest metropolis.

"Torontonians rightly sense that their city is in trouble.

"In our opinion, Rob Ford is the best candidate to address this situation."

Read the entire editorial here .

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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