Something about the circus-like atmosphere fostered by Rob Ford has blurred the line between Toronto politics and professional wrestling. First there was this business with Hulk Hogan, and now another former WWF strongman has managed to insert himself into the mayoral race.
According to the Sun, the Iron Sheik had a rendezvous with Olivia Chow at the downtown location of Belly Buster Submarines—a shop that happens to be owned by his agent. (He was in town to promote a new documentary about his life, which is premiering at Hot Docs.) During this impromptu sandwich summit, the Sheik gave Chow’s campaign his personal blessing. “God bless her,” the Sun quotes him as saying. “And I want all the people in toronto to vote for Olivia Chow to become the mayor of Toronto.” Ford, meanwhile, earned the wrestler’s scorn. (“Rob Ford, you are the real jabroni,” he said.)
All of which is amusing enough on its surface. Except, in the days since the meeting took place, it has morphed into a mini-scandal—the first of its kind for Chow in this election—because of the Sheik’s wildly sexist and homophobic public persona. In his latest column, the Post‘s Matt Gurney wonders why Chow wasn’t immediately the target of a media pile-on, the way Ford has been when photographed in the company of shady characters. Is there a difference between the Iron Sheik, and, say, some Hells Angels?
Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that Chow was in the wrong, here’s one reason she’s not being subjected to a Ford-style drubbing in the media. Soon after Gurney’s column was published, she apologized:
I met the Iron Sheik around his film. I do not condone his hurtful & unacceptable comments. I should have read them and didn’t. I apologize.
— Olivia Chow (@oliviachow) April 28, 2014
Which is something Ford would do only after allowing the problem to fester for weeks or months. Let this be a reminder: if any of the mayor’s rivals seem to be having an easier time in the press than him, it’s likely because they’ve earned it.