Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

A loud-mouthed vulgarian and inheritor of his daddy’s fortune, possessing questionable ethics, business sense, and a baffling reputation as an "outsider" amongst the common folk, launches a bid for political office that captures the attention of the nation.

His exploits and statements are legendary. His gaffes are staggering. The political establishment alternately loathes and is awed by him. The media climb over each other to report his every word. One by one his political opponents fall before him.

Donald Trump? Nope, I’m talking about Rob Ford, the recently deceased former Mayor of Toronto.

You might have never heard of him, but up here in Canada, Ford’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Jon Stewart’s associated Daily Show segment are etched in our nation’s collective memory.

That’s why Donald Trump’s rampage to the Republican nomination and consistent dominance of the news cycle feels like watching a sequel- or perhaps an adaptation.

Ford drove under the influence, got videotaped using drugs, regularly used profanity and racial slurs, threatened and occasionally used violence against his critics- once running right over a city councillor who got in his way– but he had a bumbling, stumbling quality about him that made him almost endearing. He was often compared to Chris Farley.

Say what you will about The Donald, but he would never deny rumours of an affair by saying he "had enough to eat at home." He would never order food at a Jamaican restaurant speaking actual patois. If the cops have ever been to Trump’s home to investigate a domestic dispute, I’ve never heard of it. Without his handlers to keep him under control, Ford detonated PR bombs on the daily.

But on the campaign trail, Ford was focused and disciplined. His campaign slogan- "Stop The Gravy Train" -resonated with Torontonians who were frustrated with the entrenched culture of waste at City Hall. He dominated debates, raised a ton of cash and won over immigrant enclaves ringing the city.

What accounted for this turnaround? Who was guiding him through those months?

Could Ford have been a Trump prototype?

One instance stands out in my memory. Canada- and especially Ontario, the province where I live- brags all the time about how proud it is of its open borders and relaxed immigration policy.

So, when Ford said, apropos of nothing, that Toronto lacked the infrastructure to handle with more people, I was dumbfounded.

Granted, it was no, "Let’s build a wall," but talking about limits on immigration at all in Canada hadn’t been done before or since.

Did this hurt Ford’s standing with Canadian immigrants? Quite the opposite.

Then there were the whispers about Ford’s connections to powerful Chicago Republicans.Dialing his campaign office sometimes got you a call back from a 773 area code. Then there was the fact that the Ford family business did have a branch office in Chicago.

But all this is mere speculation. The clearest evidence of a link between Trump and Ford was an utterance made by the Donald on May 5th during a rally in West Virginia.

Can you guess what Trump vowed to do as President?

That’s right. He promised to "stop the gravy train….."

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