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TOWHEY: What I learned from a decade of popular democracy

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Populism was the political buzzword of the decade.

Although different people mean different things when they say it — pretty much everyone talking about “populism” considers it a bad thing.

So, let’s call the following examples “popular democracy.” Good or bad, it’s winning formula.

2010 — The year of Rob Ford

In this Dec. 1, 2010, file photo, the late Rob Ford enters his office on his first day at City Hall as mayor of Toronto. Craig Robertson / Postmedia Network File Photo

In Toronto, Rob Ford was a much-maligned, often controversial, city councillor from Ward 2 — North Etobicoke — the “Arkansas” of Toronto districts.

He was a thorn in city council’s side, publicly exposing the spending habits of fellow councillors who used taxpayer funds to install expensive espresso machines in their offices or buy French lessons to advance their federal political ambitions.

When he floated his name for mayor, the mucky mucks laughed.

For the 10 years he’d been a councillor, they’d mocked him. All while he’d been answering calls from his constituents — and theirs. He’d travelled to thousands of front porches, garbage-strewn driveways, and roach-infested kitchens. He’d helped city-dwellers in every corner of the city solve the problems that bothered them.

When he ran for mayor, Ford promised more of the same — a city focused on the things that make life easier, or impossible, for the millions who live in it.

He didn’t preach about problems nobody knew they had. He promised to help with the ones residents already struggled with. Their problems were his priority.

And they elected Rob Ford mayor because of it.

2015 — The year of Patrick........

© Winnipeg Sun