THE BLOG

Rob Ford Has the Right to Deal With His Issues in Private

11/05/2013 12:26 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Anybody who knows me knows I love to talk about politics. I could talk to you about municipal, provincial and federal politics until the wee hours of the morning. One of my friends says my face lights up and my speech becomes faster whenever I talk about politics. While only 23, it's something that's intrigued me since I was a young child. I couldn't wait until I turned 18 so I could finally cast my first ballot and I've voted in each and every election held since and will continue to do so until the day I die.

In the past few days I've been smothering my social media friends and followers with posts about how the Rob Ford drama is really making me cringe. I was born and raised in Toronto and it's difficult to see my hometown portrayed negatively in the international media. I would much prefer to see Toronto earning the spotlight for something world-renowned.

You may be wondering -- what is a mental health advocate doing blogging about municipal politics? Well, I have an opinion and as a mental health advocate who advises and consults with all levels of government and the major political parties, I make an effort to keep my political opinions close to my chest.

The drama surrounding Ford in recent months has been feeding my political bug. I wait to watch a Rob Ford press conference like others wait to watch a TV-show or movie with a cult-like following. While I've been critical of Ford in recent months, I've suddenly become very irritated.

On Sunday, Ford apologized and admitted that he may consume a more than typical amount of alcoholic beverages in one sitting. There is a video circulating of him at the Taste of the Danforth in which people suggest he's drunk and Ford himself admitted he may have had too many drinks at that event.

Since it was revealed Ford was allegedly smoking from a crack pipe in a video that the public has yet to see, some Toronto City Council members have been calling for Ford to take a leave of absence or resign. Those calls have escalated since Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced that the infamous video Ford appears in and widely reported about in the media is in fact real.

Since this revelation and Ford's own admission that he is known to have one too many drinks people are now calling on him to receive treatment for an alleged substance abuse problem. Every time I turn on a television or radio newscast or open up a newspaper I'm seeing substance abuse experts and professionals suggest his behaviour and actions could be grounds for a substance abuse or alcohol addiction.

Being Mayor of Toronto is one of the most public roles you could ever take on -- it's a thankless job. But who are we to unofficially diagnose or even publicly suggest the mayor of Canada's largest city could be struggling with an addiction? I get that Ford's conduct is raising eyebrows, but if it goes beyond stupidity then it isn't up to us to diagnose him.

I commend everybody who has publicly revealed that they live with mental illness and/or addictions issues. At the same time this is something that many people choose to undergo privately -- we need to respect those that make that choice. Somebody with Ford's profile could do wonders to eliminate stigma for those with substance abuse and addictions challenges.

We need to stop assuming, suggesting, and calling on Ford to receive treatment and help for a problem that may not even exist. One would assume the Mayor of Toronto is in good hands and surrounded by people who are looking out for his best interest. Yes there are media reports circulating that say his own staff have called on him to receive treatment and it's been suggested Ford has turned down such calls -- that is his right.

People have been calling for Ford to be removed from office since the day he was elected mayor and even one person took him to court trying to have him removed. It concerns me that municipal politicians and others are now using his health as yet another avenue to pressure him to resign.

Ford's health is between him, his family and his healthcare team and as much as I disagree with Ford's political stance and policies I do trust he'll take the appropriate measures necessary to deal with whatever health challenges he may or may not be facing.

Police Surveillance Of Rob Ford