The 2012 TIFF film “Underground” includes lesson that Rob Ford should learn

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The final film I saw at the 2012 TIFF was “Underground,” a drama about Julian Assuage as a teenage hacker, who eventually founded WikiLeaks. Assuage remains controversial today, and although the film does not settle the questions as to whether his hacking is for the good or bad, the film reveals much about his early life in Australia.

His mother, who had fled from a Nazi-like cult that kidnapped and brainwashed children, was active in the anti-war and environmental movement throughout Julian’s informative years. As a young man, Julian identified with her ideas, but felt that his mother’s attendance at protests was futile as they sometimes only attracted only 20 or 30 people. He felt that he could use his computer-hacking skills to expose the misdeeds of the military, thus making thousands of people aware of the issues. She agreed, but felt that her way of handling the situation was the only way open to her.

This is when I thought of Mayor Rob Ford. As a private citizen, coaching a football team was one of the few ways open to him to help teenagers who want to play football. However, unlike Julian Assuage, Rob Ford has not grasped the fact that he has within his reach the opportunity to help thousands. As mayor, he can influence City Council to create programs to help many teenagers. He also has access to the offices of the provincial and federal leaders, who can provide funding to finance these programs. Why does he not seize the opportunity that is within his reach? Instead, he spends his time helping two football teams, while trying to cut funding to programs that adversely affect many children and their families (e.g. libraries, breakfast programs etc.)

I admit that helping thousands does not provide the immediate gratification, pat-on-the-back, and gush of praise that working on a one-on-one provides. But if he were serious in wanting to help teenagers to play football, he would use his influence as mayor to create city programs to accomplish the task. Instead, he spends his time with just two football teams, while ignoring the many others who require similar assistance. 

Similarly, Rob Ford brags that he “answers all phone calls.” This is another example that he has not learned the Julian Assuage lesson. Helping a single tax-payer with his/her problem is good, but how much more effective he could be if he worked through City Council to eliminate the problem for the many others who may have the same difficulty. He is mayor of the entire city, not the concierge for  an individual’s needs.

I fear that Rob Ford is a millionaire who does not seem to understand the problems of daily life for those who were not born as fortunate as he was.  The rich can afford to interact on a one-on-one basis to help each other, or to favour one particular group over another. The rich can also afford to live above the rules that others must obey. However, to provide effective assistance for the thousands of those who are not rich, we require a mayor with a broader scope of understanding, and one that by his personal example respects the rules of courtesy and proper behaviour.

Rob Ford’s attitude as illustrated by his actions seems to be – it doesn’t matter if you follow the rules, as long as you get away with it. I would not want my child being coached by anyone with this attitude.  

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The CNE Air Show is over for another year and the Ex is closed.

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The new Toronto Aquarium at the base of the CN Tower, due to open in simmer – 2013

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Construction at Clarence Square on the east side of Spadina, north of Front Street.

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The northwest corner of Queen and Spadina where a McDonald’s is located.

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The history of the site of the Dragon City Mall on the southwest corner of Spadina and Dundas Streets.

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The historic home now occupied by Paul Magder Furs

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The 1890s church of St. Margaret’s Anglican on Spadina south of Queen street. The church is now hidden from view by a modern addition across the front of it.

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The iconic Balfour Building at Spadina and Adelaide Streets

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House on Spadina south of Dundas Street – today it is difficult to believe that it was once a prestigious residential building

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The vanished underground men’s washroom from the early nineteenth century, located in the middle of the street at Queen and Spadina.

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The site of the Consumers’ Glass Building at 239-241 Spadina, south of Dundas Street. It is presently under restoration.

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