'Ford Nation' still supports Toronto's scandal-plagued mayor

Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:01am EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - At the Cloverdale Mall, just off an eight-lane highway in Toronto's western suburb of Etobicoke, Diane Gorscak took a drag on her cigarette and explained how Mayor Rob Ford's use of crack cocaine would not stop her from voting for him again.

"He did what he said he was going to do, and I don't care what he does in his spare time," the 45-year-old hairstylist said, squinting in the late-afternoon sun on an uncommonly mild November day.

Gorscak is part of a suburban block of voters, the "Ford Nation" - as the mayor calls his supporters - that has stood by their man through a drug scandal that has lost him the backing of his city council and landed him on the wrong end of U.S. late-night talk show jokes.

While recent poll numbers show declining allegiance to Ford, the mayor's appeal is still substantial in the outlying Toronto neighborhoods, which only became part of the city in 1998.

Ford hit international headlines in May when the Toronto Star newspaper and media blog Gawker said they had viewed a video apparently showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

While Ford denied there was any such video for six months, police confirmed its existence two weeks ago. Since then Ford has admitted he smoked crack in the past year while in a "drunken stupor," driven after drinking alcohol, and purchased illegal drugs while in office.

Ford emerged from a crowded field in 2010, campaigning as the outsider candidate taking on the inner Toronto downtown and bureaucrats. He returns calls from Toronto voters and eagerly poses for pictures with anyone who asks.

At his annual barbecue not far from his home in Etobicoke, where the beer and burgers are on him, hundreds line up to shake his hand.   Continued...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his City Hall office after a day of city council meetings in Toronto November 15, 2013. Toronto city council voted to strip scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford of some of his powers on Friday but Ford, who admits he smoked crack cocaine while in office, promised to challenge the moves in court. REUTERS/Jon Blacker