Pamela Wallin admitted to accounting mishaps, paid back her loot and then cried "lynching." Mayor Rob Ford's family and fans referred to his well-deserved scrutiny as "a lynching." It is nothing of the sort. They have no right to compare their media scrutiny or professional strife to African slavery, the Holocaust or any other systemic international human catastrophe. Words can wound.
Rob Ford isn't a mistake. We like to think Canada is a tolerant nation, but the mayor's pride and prejudice is an accurate reflection of much of the city he leads. We like to imagine we're nothing like our neighbours to the south, but Toronto has its red states and its blue states; it has its Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain wrapped up in one neat 330-pound package.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Pinned up for display. This situation just seems to go from bad to UGLY as each day passes. POOR, POOR Rob has to now watch his associates abandon ship.
All this debate about Rob Ford smoking crack is irrelevant. He doesn't need to go to rehab to get elected. He simply needs to do the job he was hired to do: Disrupt Toronto, Delay Toronto, and Distract Toronto. All so that the people angry with Toronto can sit back and enjoy a good trolling.
Since it was revealed Ford was allegedly smoking from a crack pipe in a video that the public has yet to see, some have been calling for Ford to take a leave of absence or resign. 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. At the same time this is something that many people choose to undergo privately -- we need to respect those that make that choice.
What if one of the reasons Toronto is so prosperous is precisely because its Mayor is too befuddled and unimaginative to interfere in any serious way with the functioning of the city? What if Mayor Ford is great precisely because he does little to nothing?
Ford apologized for his alleged actions in the crack video scandal on Saturday, but his apology left a lot of people angry and confused. Where others want him to apologize for his shenanigans regarding drugs and drinking, I want him to explain and apologize for his consistent, uncaring attitude towards his office, his city, and the people who live here.
It's pretty shocking that after months of an expensive police surveillance, the most compelling evidence produced in the Ford investigation are photos of people acting suspiciously. Criminal investigations of serious crimes are always about obtaining direct rather than circumstantial evidence wherever possible. They're about tapes, paper trails and drug tests, not semi-useless photos of people with envelopes and plastic bags.
When the news finally broke about the alleged crack video being in the hands of the Toronto Police, the addiction therapist in me saw it as a blessing in disguise for Mr. Ford. I recall thinking "maybe now he will stop this charade, get the help he needs and get his life back on track." I don't know Mr. Ford personally. But what I do know is that his behaviour of late is very indicative of an alcoholic or a drug addict. If he's serious about wanting to remain in office, I think it is irresponsible of him to pretend as though everything is fine. It's not fine, and I base that only on what has come out publicly. I can't even imagine what we don't know about.
That the cries for Rob Ford's head would be so loud and unanimous after a week of damning bombshells is hardly surprising. That's a perfectly sensible opinion, but it's also an essentially arbitrary measurement of fitness for public office stemming solely from a subjective standard of morality.
People could probably get over the idea of the mayor of the country's largest city doing illegal drugs. The more significant problem is Ford's reaction when the story broke: He didn't come clean. What Ford's boosters have always valued about him is that what you see is what you get. He doesn't posture or spin or obfuscate like a typical politician. He tells it like it is, plain and simple. But he has not told it like it is when it comes to the video, even when the city -- at times it even felt like the entire Western world -- was asking for answers. It's that choice of attempted self-preservation over forthright honesty that will be the mayor's undoing.
Yes, October 31 began with unfavourable news for Rob Ford. But what made it worse was his poorly-planned response, rather than the news itself. The pictures and videos of him chasing reporters were not classy. These are his fellow citizens -- the residents of the city of which he is Mayor. And that was very rude behaviour.
Is there any doubt about who Rob Ford is? There shouldn't be. From the moment he first ran for office, Rob Ford has been about "Stop the gravy train," even if he didn't articulate it that way in the beginning. What does Justin Trudeau stand for? There is no clear picture of who Justin is other than a good-looking guy who seems bright, has lots of charisma and speaks in generalities. Often politicians will say they don't want to reveal themselves until election time because they just make themselves a target for the other parties. But there is a difference between defining yourself -- who you are and what you stand for -- and revealing your specific policies.
Should we then be asking Rob Ford to fire Rob Ford? At the end the mayor called the alleged action of the employee "a complete embarrassment and a black eye on our city." While I await the investigation of that particular city employee, I am convinced that the mayor is a proven embarrassment to our city.
The sandbox tiff between Toronto City Councillor Paul Ainslie and Mayor Rob Ford appears destined to land on the doorstep of the City's Integrity Commissioner (a position which has become, at best, an anachronistic Miss Manners). When it does, the commissioner would be well advised to reject the complaint out of hand.