TORONTO - It seemed more like a victory parade than a funeral march.
Maybe a political rally is the best way to describe it.
Certainly, inside St. James Cathedral — I am told by those who were in there — former mayor Rob Ford’s service was beautiful with all the traditional touches.
His daughter, Stephanie’s line about her dad now being the “Mayor of Heaven” is one for the history books.
But if we are honest, there were a lot of people in that church for Ford’s funeral Wednesday who despised the man — and not just politically.
“They killed him, and yet they are all here,” said a disgusted Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti.
Calling some hypocrites, he said “it was not necessary to go at Rob in the way that some people on council and in other political positions did.”
Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris agreed.
“There will be no clinical proof that all the stress caused cancer but the stress that man was under was enormous,” said Morris.
It’s amazing Ford was castigated for being human in our politically-correct society which is ready to support everybody
“They did everything possible to force him to resign but he was so stubborn and refused to do it,” said Morris. “I always admired that in him.”
Cancer was the only opponent that beat him.
I walked the procession route with Rob’s trainer, Phil Zullo, who started working with him while in the Greenstone rehab in Muskoka.
“He didn’t get to finish his story,” said Zullo, who trains professional athletes. “But if he had got to, he would have been in shape, clean and sober and unstoppable.”
Zullo had him eating healthy. Had him lifting weights and thinking positively.
“He was ready to take on the world,” he said.
A lot of Ford Nation walking along the procession route — Queen St. to Yonge St., then south to King St. — wish it could have happened. They were chanting “Rob Ford, best mayor ever” and cheering like the Leafs won the Stanley Cup.
“These are his people,” said Zullo. “I wish I could wake him up for three seconds so he could see this.”
But everybody breathing saw it.
Mayor John Tory has been gracious in his handling of Rob Ford’s death but certainly could see the love people had for Rob. While he’s gone, Ford Nation is still upright and breathing.
“If Doug Ford decides to run, the minute he takes that council seat, the election is on and John Tory knows that,” one member of Ford Nation said.
Ford’s funeral day in many ways turned into a kind of pep rally that sets a stage for Doug Ford to pick up the mantle and keep Ford Nation going if that’s what he wants.
It will be interesting to see. The politicking started long before the Celebration of Life party at the Congress Centre Wednesday night. In fact, right in the procession, Ford Nation volunteers were handing out the famous blue-and-white Ford Nation buttons and flags.
Whatever Doug decides, the Rob Ford era is now over. His memory will live on but the incredible man who, flaws and all, gave everything he had will not. Next there will be a statue to remember him and history will be kind no matter how much his haters hate that. The huge crowd and chanting and cheering made that statement.
“For two years he felt alone,” said Mammoliti. “Today, as he looks down from above, he can see for himself he is not alone.”
For many in politics, Wednesday was about forgetting about all of that and letting bygones be bygones. No blood on their hands. They have absolved themselves. All is fair in love and on the War on Ford.
But it’s not that easy for Mammoliti to let it go.
“This is Rob’s day today so I won’t name them today,” he told me. “But I will name names tomorrow.”
Turns out even in death Rob Ford is still stirring it up at City Hall.