December 22, 2013 - 4:29 PM
Few could have predicted that Canada’s moment in the global spotlight this year would be courtesy of a crack-smoking, “drunken-stupor” mayor who used graphic sexual language on live television.
Rob Ford was a one-man news cycle, as he met each wave of allegations with wild counter-allegations, mixed with a few gaffes and a sprinkling of apologies.
It is for these reasons and more that editors and news directors across the country selected Ford as Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year.
The headline-grabbing, sound bite-generating Toronto mayor received 63 per cent of the votes in the annual survey of the country’s newsrooms by The Canadian Press.
Some of those who voted said they wanted to pick Chris Hadfield, who received 16 per cent of the votes thanks to his inspirational time as commander of the International Space Station. But most felt there was no choice but Ford.
“We loved that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize. We were amazed when Christy Clark won the B.C. election. Theresa Spence definitely made waves as did Nigel Wright in the PMO,” said Adrienne Tanner, the deputy editor of the Vancouver Sun.
“But really no one tops Rob Ford’s antics of the past year, which went from outrageous to ludicrous to pitiful. He’s the hands-down winner for bad newsmaker of the year. No one else comes close.”
Gravely serious allegations lie at the heart of what sparked myriad Ford controversies, but at each turn his bombastic, confrontational, unfiltered nature fanned the flames and ensured the near-constant stream of shocking news.
When Ford ended months of denials with a surprise crack cocaine admission he handled it by stressing it was in one of his “drunken stupors.”
He dealt with allegations that he made aggressively sexual comments to a former female staffer by making more crude remarks about oral sex on live TV, saying he has “more than enough to eat at home.”
Ford handled a heated council meeting to strip him of his powers by getting into a shouting match with citizens, then running into and knocking down a female councillor.
He responded to the final vote with equal aplomb, comparing it to the invasion of Kuwait.
Such is the current benchmark of Ford scandals that a defamation lawsuit, a sexual assault accusation and a 1999 arrest in Florida for DUI and pot possession now fall far short of this year’s admissions of smoking crack cocaine and buying illegal drugs, alleged associations with gang members and claims of drunk driving.
Vote breakdown for The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year survey
Editors and news directors across the country have selected Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as Canada's Newsmaker of the Year.
Rob Ford: 63 per cent
Chris Hadfield: 16 per cent
Senators: 7 per cent
Colette Roy-Laroche: 7 per cent
Rehtaeh Parsons: 2 per cent
Stephen Harper: 2 per cent
Others: 4 per cent
Quotes from voters who chose Rob Ford as Newsmaker of the Year
TORONTO - Quotes from news directors and editors who chose Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as Canada's top newsmaker for 2013 in the annual poll of news organizations by The Canadian Press:
"Is there really a choice? Rob Ford is clearly not Canadian of the Year, but there is little doubt he generated the most sensational news consistently throughout the year. His infamy even spread abroad. How many other Canadians have the been subject of Saturday Night Live's opening sketch?" — Chris Hannay, online politics editor, Globe and Mail.
"Rob Ford was repeatedly 'the' story that stopped you in your tracks. Just when you felt there could be no further fuel for the Ford story fire, it seemed he provided another splash of kerosene. I've never seen anything like it." — Phil Andrews, managing editor, Guelph Mercury.
"Ford eclipsed any other possible choice for newsmaker and the gong show just kept rolling. His antics weren't known solely in every corner of Canada, but around the world. As one editorial cartoon suggested, Canada became known internationally as that country where Santa lives in the far north, and where 'the crack mayor' lives to the south." — Tracy Gilchrist, editor, Kamloops Daily News.
"I would actually prefer to have picked Lac-Megantic mayor Colette Roy-Laroche for symbolizing the people of Lac-Megantic: calm, firm, constantly present, a very human authority figure amid the destruction and the posturing of some others. Or Mike Duffy, for personifying the Senate debacle: we have no clear idea yet how far this story will go. Or Chris Hadfield for his view of the Earth, of all the countries and geographies and cities and colours and wonders, that made his time in space so captivating. But ultimately Ford was the person no one could stop watching: mayor of Canada's largest city acting like Toronto is his private amateur football team; the astonishingly unguarded wording of his comments; the attacks on the media and the police; the potential tragedy of a man looking like he will literally explode at any second ... and he has been the perfect story for the age of instant video. Unbelievable theatre that also raises the question about our society: Who have we become?" — Catherine Wallace, managing editor, Montreal Gazette.
"Rob Ford may be the greatest one-man headline generator of our time. Just when you think the situation can't get anymore insane, he finds a way to take it to the next level." — Leo Pare, news and new media editor, Red Deer Advocate.
"In 2013, Rob Ford was probably the most famous (infamous?) mayor in the world. Just ask David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, etc." — Scott Metcalfe, news director at Toronto radio station 680News.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2013