This week, the embattled federal Conservatives received a gift from the Gods: enough Rob Ford drama to deflect attention from the senate scandal in Ottawa. First there was Ford's sudden ousting of Chief of Staff Mark Towhey. Then, there was Ford's public statement adamantly denying doing crack or being a crack addict ... in the present tense. But as taxpayers and citizens, we should be careful that we don't become so distracted by the local guy squirting mustard on our shirts that we fail to notice the gentlemen from Ottawa carefully picking our back pockets while we fuss.
What we have here is a refusal to communicate. We have a prime minister who refuses to explain why three of his Conservative senators have been forced to resign from his party. When it comes to codes of silence, His Worship the oafish mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, has learned a lot from the nation's chief magistrate.
Mayor Rob Ford's stubborn refusal to address substantively the allegations of drug use, and the reputational contagion and distraction it has caused, needs to be addressed in short order. In a corporate setting, a Chief Executive engaging in similar patterns of behavior would not be tolerated by any board of directors. The CEO would have been fired long ago.
Let's forget whether or not the truth matters at this point in the Saga of Rob Ford. In my opinion it doesn't. But there are 6,000 people who have given their money to the Crackstarter campaign who believe it does. Well, they're not likely to get it. You can't possibly be surprised that this gang member is proving hard to reach.
Rob Ford has chosen to imitate an ostrich when it comes to questions regarding "the video." He has buried his head in the sand. It's a lousy strategy, highlighting only his ability to run away from trouble. It's not leadership - it's panic. And it's especially sad when he had so many options open to him. Instead, he ran away and hid like a scared, petulant child. And it's this complete and total lack of leadership that has doomed him. At this point, it doesn't matter whether the video is real or not - the electorate has seen their Mayor as someone who clearly cannot handle dealing with a rough situation when the chips are down.
I don't know for sure if Rob Ford's alleged use of coke/crack/alcohol/weed is the reason he's been such a terrible mayor. If so, then I would certainly encourage him to step down and seek treatment. However, if his incompetence as mayor exists independently of his alleged substance use, then the substance use pretty much a non-issue for me.
Tweets are brief. I get that. But Robyn Doolittle's response to my earlier blog post is telling. She failed to address the widespread concerns about her reportage, and opted instead for a straw man strategy starring yours truly. It's a familiar defense aimed at ending debate. Call someone a sexist, a racist, a homophobe. I've heard them all. But I've never used them.
Either way, with all of his other scandals in mind, if this video proves to be true, Ford must leave office. But the fact that he should leave office as a man in need of help, and not a morally bankrupt criminal (at least for potentially using crack), remains. Unfortunately, the lingering effects of the Drug War likely will remain as well.
Living in Vancouver, I'm no Rob Ford fan. I'm not even sure what that is. Media outlets across Canada and around the world reported on what the Star published while their reporter Robyn Doolittle has gone Hollywood. Drug dealers, no video proof, there's nothing right about this whole thing. Folks, prepare yourself for the new normal.
Fordgate is a classic example of new media leading the old. U.S. producers are smart enough to realize that Canadians represent a major chunk of the North American consumer base, and there's very little commercial downside in giving them what they want. Especially when their own media won't. With the Gawkers of the world happily pillaging their readers, revenue, and reputation, decency debates are a luxury Canada's old guard media establishment literally can't afford.
What's troubling is that the homophobic and racially slanted comments allegedly made by Rob Ford have received little or no scrutiny. The biggest stain this scandal brings isn't the possible addictions of a well-known politician. It is the fetid stench of acceptance and normalization of blatant bigotry that stinks to high heavens. Have we become collectively complacent in the face of bigotry?
The obvious question is, if Mayor Ford is charged with possession of crack cocaine does he then lose his post? The short answer is "no." Absent imprisonment, there is really no way to remove a mayor who is charged with an offence.
This week has been an emotional roller coaster for Canadians who follow the news. Lost in the shuffle were two stories that were of no particular importance, relatively speaking, to Canadians. One of them is about the way well-heeled Manhattan moms have worked the lineup system at Disney by hiring a disabled person to be a "family member" for the day.
This is how the entire situation boils down: You are giving your money to a website so they can give your money to a member of a gang which wreaks violence on your city so that they, the website, can make money for themselves. Does this make any sense to you whatsoever? If you don't like Rob Ford, fine, don't vote for him. Smear him all you want. Insult him at every party. Call him a fascist Michelin Man. Frankly, I don't give a damn. But for the love of God, please don't give money to drug dealers.
This week was so full of disillusioning news that it was hard to keep an optimistic outlook. In Belize, thousands of years of history were razed when one of the country's largest Mayan pyramids was bulldozed. In Toronto, Gawker and The Toronto Star published details of a video alleged to show the city's mayor, Rob Ford, inhaling from what two Star reporters who saw the video say "appears to be a glass crack pipe." Meanwhile, in Ottawa, expense scandals led to Senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy leaving the Conservative caucus. What's a defeated HuffPost reader to do?
Near midnight last night, the Toronto Star detailed the video of Mayor Ford allegedly smoking crack cocaine. But while they're the ones questioning Ford's fitness to lead, they're also the ones who are primarily responsible for this mess -- them and our arcane electoral system. The first past the post system made it harder for the non-top-two candidates, including Sarah Thomson, to stay in the race. If we'd had a ranked ballot method of voting, they may have stayed in. I was livid at Thomson quitting, leaving us with two crappy choices. It's no wonder so many of us either didn't vote or seriously considered not voting.