Just as Toronto’s city council voted to strip Mayor Rob Ford of several powers and privileges on Monday, a team of Ryerson academics is gearing up for an anti-Ford “coup d’état” of its own.
Using an Indiegogo campaign called United Against Robbie’s Bobbies, the duo from the school’s social work department is battling to replace the “tarnished” United Way donation fundraised through sales of the embattled mayor’s 1,000 bobblehead dolls.
“If Iceberg Vodka and the Toronto Argonauts can take a stand, I think the United Way — with all the principles they claim to stand by — can take a stand against someone going into priority neighbourhoods and using them to score crack and score drugs,” said Jordan Aslett.
The liquor company distanced itself from Ford after a police investigation linked him to it, and the football team did the same after Ford showed up to city hall wearing its jersey.
The campaign, co-founded by Aslett, calls for the United Way to refuse the City of Toronto’s donation if it matches the $12,000 the bobbleheads raked in.
Ford’s bobblehead dolls may not look like him, but to Aslett and Ryerson social work professor Susan Preston, they symbolize everything deplorable about his recent erratic behaviour.
From “(exploiting) Rexdale as a place to use drugs,” to his “stop snitching attitudes,” their Indiegogo page declares Ford has directly offended the charity’s principles and values.
And by accepting the cash, Aslett said, the United Way is irresponsibly and “tacitly supporting his behaviour.”
“I realized sort of as a social work professional, watching someone try to whitewash their image by using a charity that is dedicated to city building while he’s actively trying to destroy the city — I just couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.
Although Preston said she understands “it’s really a challenge (for charities) to raise money in our current fiscal climate,” she also argued the organization is in a position to take a stand and refuse to accept the money.
“If we raise the money, then there’s no monetary loss to them at all,” she said.
Michelle Yao, a communications representative for the United Way, said the organization doesn’t control how its 700 workplace partners fundraise.
“As long as it’s legal,” Yao said, it’s up to the workplace to determine how to raise the money.
She wouldn’t comment on the Indiegogo campaign or the integrity of the money the United Way would receive from sales of the bobbleheads.
At press time, five days after the campaign went live, eight donors contributed $473 toward the hefty $12,000 goal.
If the United Way accepts the funds raised from the Robbies Bobbies sale last week, Aslett said the $12,000 will be donated to community programs in the Rexdale or Jamestown areas.
If, however, the campaign doesn’t reach its goal by Dec. 15, the money will be returned to the campaign’s donors.
Before that deadline hits, Aslett and Preston plan to write an open letter to city hall staff about their concerns and bolster their social media presence to get the word out about their project.