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Canada: Toronto's Tea Party mayor

Rob Ford was convicted of drunk driving and has an ambivalent relationship with the truth.

Ford was charged with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. The marijuana charge was later dismissed, but Ford was convicted of impaired driving after pleading no contest to the charge.

When first confronted by a reporter about incident, Ford denied the marijuana charge. He admitted it the next day.

He got in trouble with the law again in 2008, when he was charged with uttering a death threat to his wife. The charges were later dropped.

During the campaign, he said Toronto shouldn’t welcome any more immigrants — a provocative statement in a city where half the population is born outside of Canada. He also suggested Toronto should get rid of streetcars and pronounced an end to what he calls the “war against the car.”

Since taking office, he’s eliminated a $60 vehicle registration fee for residents (it brought in $64 million a year) and promised to freeze property taxes — all without cutting services, somehow. The city budget already had a $221 million shortfall even before the registration fee was eliminated.

Ford also seems determined to scrap an $8 billion transit plan that took years to negotiate and involves funding from the federal and provincial governments. It would provide streetcar service to the city’s suburbs.

And he vows to contract out the city’s garbage collection — a sure vote-getter after a needless summer-long garbage strike in 2009 sunk any chance of the former mayor, David Miller, running for a third term.

His election demonstrated a clear divide in the city: The suburbs voted overwhelmingly for Ford while the central part of the city voted for Smitherman — the first openly gay candidate to run for mayor.

For at least two decades, Toronto’s media has spent much time speculating about whether the city is on the verge of becoming “world class.” Many would instead argue that Ford’s election is yet another sign of a city afraid of its own potential.