Google Rob Ford and you're met with the latest on the most recent scandal. In what can only be described as a whirlwind of chaos, Toronto's Mayor is in the news again with another bizarre allegation.
A story about a cellphone video that emerged this morning allegedly showing Mayor Ford smoking crack-cocaine and making derogatory slurs made the front page of the Toronto Star, unleashing a media frenzy and quickly becoming a national trending topic (#RobFord).
Although the Mayor called the allegations "ridiculous," many in the city are not surprised, and others are saying enough is enough and calling for his resignation effective immediately. Torontonians are also concerned with the homophobic language allegedly used by the Mayor in the video and constant use of the word "Somali" in articles covering the video, hinting at racial bias within the media. While valid, these are merely distractions from the fact that this Mayor is deteriorating right before our eyes. Those who elected him on the promise that he would keep taxes low and still be able to build a world-class city are receiving a very rude awakening.
Authentic or not, the video represents a dysfunctional climax to city politics in a visual nutshell. Just yesterday Ford uncharacteristically declared the casino deal "dead." His saga of shortcomings continues to plague council as they fight for the right to debate transit, casinos, and revenue tools -- the most pressing issues Toronto currently faces. Focusing on city business and building consensus on council may prove to be a challenging task given such a big distraction.
As this story breaks internationally, it's clear that Toronto's lack of brand is taking a solid beating. It's one of the few places right now where one man is entirely responsible for the complete demise of a city's reputation. Looks like Drake may have to help us with some serious damage control.
What needs to happen next is that the Mayor should address the allegations head-on, then move on. What Toronto needs to do is start vetting potential Mayoral candidates for 2014 as Ford has made it clear that he'll be running again. We're not just asking for democratic reform, we're yearning for leadership reform as well. The fact that we have 44 elected councillors yet very few leaders is a sad reality that we need to acknowledge. When you honestly think about it, our standards are not that high when it comes to politicians; we need to raise the bar. We also need to start celebrating those who are recognized leaders outside of politics and start encouraging them to run for office.
As it is, due to a lack of local representation, people in communities all over the city are getting more active than ever before in addressing municipal issues, creating groups and associations, and mobilizing them in grassroots advocacy. Toronto clearly wants better, it clearly deserves better, so we need to get out there and vote for better. Mayor Ford was elected in 2010 with 47 per cent of the vote meaning that close to half of the city believed that he would change everything that people hated about City Hall.
Unfortunately, the man who was elected to "stop the Gravy Train" has single-handedly derailed his image and the public's confidence in municipal politics.
It's going to be on us to change that in 2014.