And how does anyone control Mr. Ford’s rabble of supporters, who filled the auditorium and dominated the room?
Moderator Mark McAllister, the nice woman who kept waving the time-is-up cards in vain, and the police all tried, but there’s no governing the mob; that’s why it’s called the mob.
The evening had barely begun when one Ford Nation regular, a woman who shrieked, standing up, virtually non-stop, had to be escorted out by Toronto police. Throughout, other Ford supporters — and yes, some wore shirts or hats identifying themselves as such — frequently got to their feet, shouting or chanting (“Ford more years! Ford more years!” and, “We love Doug!”).
And then there was, towards the end of the night, the coup de grace, a man named Earl Cowan yelling at Ms. Chow, “Go home Olivia! Back to China!”, and when some in the crowd murmured reproachfully, added, as if by way of explanation, “She’s Chinese! She’s not Canadian!”
He’s a distinguished looking fella, as Mr. Ford would say, all white hair and glasses and nice jacket. I figured perhaps he’d just inexplicably lost his cool — it happens — and approached him after to inquire. Someone beat me to the punch, and sarcastically thanked him for the racist remark.
“Yeah,” said Mr. Cowan with a smile, “racism!” He was entirely unembarrassed and unrepentant. I introduced myself and gave it another whirl, but Mr. Cowan stood his disgraceful ground in the boneheaded, self-delighted, other-worldly way of Ford Nationals.
Afterwards, pundits talked about “the energy” the evening had had, how Mr. Tory now had to pump up the volume, and that in a game which is about sound bites, gotchas and whose cheerleaders are the most obnoxious, Mr. Ford probably had won, and certainly demonstrated that he’s “serious” about the campaign.