There were two earthquakes in less than 24 hours in Toronto this week. One of them shook the ground. The other shook the city's confidence in the mayor's office. Everyone now knows about the infamous yet unaired alleged videotape of a man resembling Mayor Rob Ford and his snorting an unknown substance alongside his acquaintances. The media went into a frenzy: what was he snoring? Was it crack-cocaine? Does that explain his purported "weird behaviour"? Who will purchase the much-anticipated tape?
What's troubling is that the homophobic and racially slanted comments allegedly made by Rob Ford have received little or no scrutiny. The myriad cultural organisations in the GTA barely raised a stink. As Toronto is Canada's most multicultural city, and it is the home of Canada's largest Pride Parade, it is disconcerting that the Mayor let those hateful words drip from his mouth with such ease. But what's even worse is that the odious remarks didn't cause much agitation in the bedrock of multiculturalism.
Have we become collectively complacent in the face of bigotry?
Rob Ford insulted half of Torontonians with his alleged quip describing the mostly-black football team he coaches as "just f-cking minorities."
Later in the 90-second video he is asked about the football team and he appears to say "they are just f---ing minorities," [according to the Toronto Star]
Furthermore, using a homophobic slur to denigrate the Leader of a federal party should raise eyebrows in a country that prides itself in being one of the first to decriminalize homosexuality and to recognize same-sex marriage.
Rob Ford appears to say, "Justin Trudeau's a fag." [According to the Toronto Star]
On the Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Toronto, mayor Ford stood behind a rainbow flag. No rainbow is big enough to hide Mayor Ford's homophobia.
In this day and age, when a prominent politician exerts that kind of barefaced bigotry, he usually is forced out of office. Former separatist leader Jacques Parizeau's xenophobia -- well known to astute Quebecers -- was too transparent to ignore or deny when he blamed the 1995 Referendum results on "the ethnic vote." No person of colour has ever forgotten that moment when the intolerant underpinnings of a movement bubbled to the surface. The Parti Québécois has never recovered from the stain of racism.
By the time the white dust settles, the potentially career-ending video might end up on YouTube, the drug dealer may end up starting a new (crime-free) life in Western Canada, and the City of Toronto might have a new mayor.
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.
In March, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson accused Rob Ford of grabbing her behind while at an event. She later suggested the mayor was so out of it that she wondered if he was on cocaine. Ford has denied the accusations.
In November of 2012, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ordered Rob Ford to be removed from office for violating Toronto's Conflict-of-Interest Act. The ruling stemmed from Ford's participation in a council vote to recommend he repay donations that he solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead. After weeks of uncertainty about who would replace Ford, the mayor won his appeal, allowing him to remain in power.
Ford's role as coach of a high school football team has repeatedly landed him in hot water. From a city bus used to ferry the team home after a reported brawl, to missed council meetings and court appearances, Ford's gridiron exploits have made headlines again and again. Despite the controversy, Ford has maintained that he's not giving up his other job to focus on running the city.
On a trade mission to Chicago, Ford infamously confused Winnipeg and Windsor, a verbal stumble that prompted chuckles on both sides of the border.
A video clip of Ford falling while attempting to throw a football at a Grey Cup event was quickly turned into GIF image that went viral.
In October of 2012, a photo hit the web of Ford reading while driving. The mayor admitted to doing it, but refused to hire a driver, despite pleas from the police and political allies. The incident was far from the first Fordian fail on the road. The mayor has also been accused of giving a motorist the finger while driving and has admitted that he pleaded guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample after driving under the influence of alcohol in Florida.
A photo hit the web in September of 2012 of Ford posing with a neo-Nazi dressed in a foreign military uniform. Ford explained that he was unaware of the man's political beliefs. At least one major Jewish group said it was satisfied the mayor meant no harm.
For several months in 2012, Ford took part in a very public weight-loss campaign. Weigh-ins staged before the press meant the mayor had nowhere to hide, and after some initial success, he actually started putting on pounds. Ford admitted to giving up soon after.
Ford called the police in May of 2012 and alleged that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale trespassed on his property. Dale denied the allegations and said Ford approached him with a raised fist. Ford would subsequently refuse to speak with reporters from the Star or to co-operate with the paper in any way.
Ford has twice bucked tradition and refused to attend Toronto's Pride parade, prompting widespread criticism.
Late in 2011, Ford called the police after Marg Delahunty (Mary Walsh) and the crew of CBC's satirical show "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" showed up at his home. While other politicians have reacted with laughter when approached by Delahunty, Ford said the "ambush" at his family home crossed the line.
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