Selfies at Ford visitation under fire

TORONTO - Some are calling it selfie promotion or campaigning by casket.

Others say it just shows the populism of former mayor Rob Ford and the love Ford Nation has for him and his brother Doug.

Whatever you want to call it, there’s no question many people wanted to get a picture with Doug Ford as he greeted mourners Monday in front of his Councillor Rob Ford’s casket inside the rotunda at City Hall.

He did most of them with a smile.

But the reviews were not exactly complimentary online.

“I remember doing the same @ mom’s funeral. It was a nice way to gain media attention & politicize our loss,” was one tweet in disapproval.

“Doug Ford props up brother’s corpse for self promotion and photo ops,” said another.

Others suggested Rob would be rolling in his casket or certainly rolling his eyes.

It created quite a debate on morning talk radio. John Oakley’s producer, Lyndsey Vanstone, on AM 640 made the point that while “I know Doug loves his brother” it did not seem like the “appropriate” place to be taking selfies and “a lot of people think it’s a little bit odd.”

But Oakley disagreed, saying in today’s world, “I have no problem with it. Is there any harm in it if it helps them with the grieving process?”

Over at Newstalk 1010, morning man John Moore said it didn’t bother him either — calling selfies “the new autograph.”

But it certainly grabbed attention.

“We had one woman who actually brought a selfie stick and she tried to get a picture of herself with the casket in the rear,” one City Hall staffer told me.

She was stopped. That was going too far.

However, people getting pictures with Doug was routine during the first day of the visitation. Many times it was nephew and school board trustee Michael Ford being asked for a picture. The visitation continues Tuesday and the funeral is Wednesday. Doug Ford has invited the public to “come and walk with us.”

Why are they doing this, you may ask?

Because it’s 2016.

It’s also how Ford Nation rolls. They love Rob and Doug. There’s even an online petition for a statue to be erected in Rob’s honour.

“The people of Toronto want to give back to a man who has given so much to them. Immortalize Rob Ford with a statue in the Great City of Toronto,” writes James Morrison, who has about 300 signatures as of Tuesday morning on his petition. “This man was a fighter until the end. Fighting for every single person he represented and known for keeping an eagle’s eye on every tax dollar spent in the City of Toronto, ending what was known as the gravy train.”

Like former councillor Jack Layton, he certainly deserves one.

Certainly no one took more pictures with the public than Rob Ford as mayor. Mayor John Tory gets asked to do it dozens of times a day, too. The current selfie king is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was even asked to do it at former finance minister Jim Flaherty’s funeral.

The question is, what exactly is Doug or John or Justin supposed to do when asked to take a picture with a taxpayer who they work for? As long as there is not something more pressing they should be doing, they should just go ahead and do it.

They can’t win either way.

Doug Ford has yet to comment on this, but having been down there for several hours Monday, I can tell you that it was more a matter of people asking and the former councillor obliging. It was done tastefully and in the time I was there, never with the casket in view.

As for smiling in the pictures, Doug has told me that the last thing Rob would have wanted during this time is for anybody to be moping around. He said while everybody is sad, this is also a “celebration” of his brother’s life.

That said, the fact that so many people want to have pictures with Doug is also an interesting development for all those political scientists who have said Ford Nation dies with Rob Ford.

Looks like Ford Nation still loves Doug Ford, too. There are pictures to prove it.

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