"Everything is fine."
Cheer up, Toronto: Rob Ford's shenanigans getting scant attention in international press.
When that Globe story came across my Twitter feed Thursday I thought twice about clicking. What Fordian sop this time?
The words "scant" and "shenanigans" stuck out.
"Scant" because all we've been hearing about is how much the Ford crack video controversy has messed with Toronto's global rep. How could it not?
And "shenanigans" because that's a word usually reserved for mischief making, and that seems like huge understatement to describe the mayor's alleged cavorting with local gang members.
The Globe story quoted a report by Cormex Research to make its case. The problem with the report: it's a month old. And it dropped barely three days after the Ford crack video story broke - hardly enough time to assess its effects internationally.
A lot has happened since, most of it too inside-baseball to be of any concern to those living outside the Big Smoke, unless they happen to be Torontophiles. But to conclude, as the report does, that the mayor has been "a minor factor in the city global news coverage," is misleading.
When politics of any kind account for 5 per cent of international news coverage concerning Toronto, the fact the mayor is hogging the spotlight for the wrong reasons can't be good news.
A more pertinent number in the Cormex report: El Fordo's fuckedupedness has comprised a whopping 15 per cent of negative coverage about the city since the beginning of 2013, right up there with alleged VIA Rail terrorist plots.
The Globe followed up Thursday's don't worry, be happy, no-one out there is paying attention, with a column Saturday by City Hall scribe Marcus Gee headlined The Bright Side Of Toronto.
The pieces quotes Renato Discenza, of Invest Toronto. "If you were to hear sometimes the way we speak about ourselves, a third party would think we were in the world's worst hell."
That's one way of looking at it. But if the head of the "primary business, sales and marketing corporation for the City of Toronto" is being quoted at all on the subject of Ford and what his alleged affections for crack mean for the city's global good name, then clearly the biz classes are worried.
"Behind the headlines," the Globe article concludes, "Toronto has lots to cheer about."
I get it. The city needs reassuring. After two violent years of Ford, and the recent true crime drama around that alleged crack video, we can be forgiven for feeling like the victims in an abusive relationship with our chief magistrate.
How the city is perceived elsewhere because our mayor happens to be an oblivious whack job isn't really the point. We're too preoccupied with what others think. Toronto has always suffered from a weird inferiority complex.
But Toronto needs a little more soul-searching and a little less navel-gazing right now, as much as we might want to ignore the recent tumult around Ford and get on with our summer.
I'm all for ridding ourselves of the Ford obsession. I've always thought our mayor is a bit of an attention-seeking drama queen. Except, we're in a dangerous place right now. Sugary reminders of what a great city we live in may offer group therapy and temporary relief from the madness of King Ford. Ultimately, it's an avoidance strategy.
The police chief held a press conference in the wake of that massive round up of the Dixon City Bloods Thursday before last. You know the story: he was asked repeatedly about the mayor and whether the raids were connected in any way to Ford and that video of him allegedly smoking crack. The pregnant pauses spoke volumes.
From the rest of Toronto officialdom, there's been nothing but an eerie silence since. Police, too, seem to be closing ranks.
To recap: one of the three men Ford posed with in that now famous photo in front of his high school buds place in North Etobicoke is dead. The other two were arrested in the Dixon sweep for, among other things, participating in a known criminal organization. If the chief was hoping to revive political calls for the mayor's ouster, he was wrong. There've been no takers.
What are civic leaders afraid of? Preserving their political asses mostly. These days, you can barely find a politician around City Hall who'll speak on the record about what the implications are of the mayor allegedly associating with known gang members.
Blair's presser should have provided an opening, or offered space to ask more questions. However, for the first time in a long time last week, the mayor didn't have to field queries from reporters about the crack video affair some of us seem in a hurry to forget. After all, there's a whole summer of fun in the city to get on with.