The cover this week’s NOW Magazine, one of the alt-weekly papers here in Toronto/Accordion City/Petoria, features a cover story with Photoshopped pictures of this fine city’s Peter Griffin-esque mayor Rob Ford wearing boxer shorts and less. The Toronto Star reports that in response, the mayor’s office sent out email orders to “remove and dispose” all copies of NOW from any City of Toronto buildings:
The issue hit newsstands Thursday morning. The email was sent at around 9 a.m. by Lorraine Pickett, custodial supervisor at City Hall, to the City Hall security desk and to custodial managers at other city facilities. It read: "Hi All, I have a request from the mayor’s office to remove all NOW newspapers from all City of Toronto locations/facilities ASAP. Please remove and dispose."
The directive was "reversed" later in the day, said east district supervisor Rex Bussey, and Ford spokesperson Adrienne Batra attributed Pickett’s email to a "misunderstanding."
Batra, speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, said a member of the mayor’s staff, whom she would not identify, was "very troubled" by the images and independently decided to phone the facilities department to "find out what the policy is to have magazines and newspapers within city facilities."
The mayor’s office could’ve simply ignored the issues of NOW and the whole thing would’ve been forgotten by next Thursday, when the next issue comes out. By issuing the “remove and dispose” memo, they turned a non-issue into a censorship story (and sadly, it’s a bush-league sort of censorship that is rarely seen outside of student councils) picked up by:
- The Globe and Mail
- The National Post
- and even the Toronto Sun, Ford’s bestest buddy in the press
The incident points out one of the major inconsistencies with the mayor’s office: Ford talked a big game about accountability, transparency and respect for taxpayers during the campaign, but in “Ford Nation” (as he is wont to call it), Soviet-style secrecy and image management is standard practice. It would’ve been much simpler (and a better use of city staff’s time) for them to have followed the maxim “What you resist persists.”