Ford Nation showed its support for the man who put them first
Rob Ford supporters march through the streets alongside Toronto Police to pay tribute to their former mayor. Photographer Credit: Alexis Perikleous
Rob Ford supporters say he will be remembered as a man who took action and inspired people to care about their city.
During both procession and funeral which moved from Toronto City Hall to St. James Cathedral on Wednesday, hundreds of people lined the streets to pay tribute to their former mayor.
“Rob had inspired them by his words, by his actions and to care about their city,” said former Ontario premier, Mike Harris in his opening remarks at the funeral.
Ford’s supporters felt he set himself apart from other politicians because of the personal connections he made with his constituents.
Katalin Toth, who helped campaign for Ford during his mayoral run said, “I love John Tory. I think he’s a great mayor, but I would rather have Rob…When there was a problem he went out personally and helped”.
“I found him very nice, very simple, unpretentious. To me that was the appeal, and also putting tax payers first,” said the former teacher. “I just retired two years ago, I have to watch where my dollars are going, so yes he appealed to me very much, as he did to other retirees I suppose”.
“He was a man of the people”
Donna Fowles, a Ford constitute from Etobicoke agrees, “He was not selfish, he was tenacious and he was full of love,” she said.
Ford was respected for being driven by his love for Toronto and it’s people.
“If you are a politician, you have to volunteer. He had a passion. He didn’t work for his salary. His salary was nothing to him because he had a big fortune to begin with,” said stock trader, Balan Alagaratham.
Ford impacted adults and children alike. Among procession attendees was 10-year-old Evan Roy, “I was going to meet him one time but he was too sick so he gave me a picture of him… I prayed for him every night,” he said.
Ford Nation seemed to have gained new members Wednesday, members who discarded their former mayor’s controversial past and focused on his achievements.
“People who were criticizing him are now here to support. So I guess they all put aside their differences, because they knew behind the persona was a great guy,” said Fowles.
Eulett Cox, a city volunteer and proud supporter of Ford said, “He acknowledged you as a human being, wether you were of high or low status. He didn’t care how you looked or how you spoke, he was always there”.
People sang and waved banners and signs in the air to display their love for the city councillor, as his casket was transported to St. James Cathedral from Toronto City Hall.
“It’s like the passing of any dignitary or public figure in society. In the immediate period following the death there is always that outpouring of support,” said Deputy Commander Paramedic, Leo Leach.
“I would wish to thank him for his service and the dedication that he did have to the people and the city of Toronto. He was a great guy…Toronto’s going to really miss him,” said Leach.
Lorna Rodrigues, a former broadcaster thinks highly of the Ford family and said, “For a white prevailed anglo-saxon family they really catapulted us into the twenty-first century”.
“Rob had the courage to be 100 per cent authentic at all times. I don’t think Rob has a secret that the world doesn’t know about,” she said.
“To be courageous is to be honest, and he was a man of courage”.