In a city that has been blessed with competent leadership of the past, Rob Ford has been a disappointment to Toronto to say the least. For instance, David Miller brought environmental credential as well as eloquence to the office while David Crombie brought smart and big ideas to government.
The fact is that the position is in need of a great advocate for the people of Toronto, Canada's largest city. A great city should aspire to be inclusive and open to all the residents not based on income but citizenship. Rob Ford is not providing the kind of leadership Toronto needs, and worse, his many antics are embarrassing the city as well as the people.
Earlier Tuesday, he was caught by a member of the public while he was reading and driving on the Gardiner Expressway. The picture indicated the mayor holding up a sheaf of papers while driving his Cadillac Escalade. According to the driver who tweeted the picture first, "The picture was taken around 10 a.m. while on the Gardiner and traffic was moving at about 70 km heading eastbound just by Jameson."
This follows an episode in July where Mayor Ford was accused of driving past an open door of a TTC streetcar. It was later confirmed by the head of the TTC that the mayor "drove past the closed back doors, but stopped behind the open front doors." The Ontario's Highway Traffic Act advises cars to be two metres behind doors that are open on a streetcar.
Last year, there was also another accusation of the mayor driving while talking on the phone. Worse, he was accused of giving the finger to a Toronto woman and her six-year-old daughter when the mother advised him that he was breaking the law.
Regarding his latest embarrassment when pressed by the media at a City Hall conference on an upcoming trade trip to Chicago, he simply stated "Well, I'm busy. I don't know what that has to do with our trade mission," and how ridiculous it was for him to be asked such a question.
His own brother, Councilor Doug Ford and his council ally, Councillor Michael Thompson, have both asked for the mayor to get a chauffeur much like his predecessors. The city is willing to pay for his driver yet the mayor is still refusing the call.
On the official Facebook page of the Toronto Police, Sgt. Tim Burrows, Toronto Police social media officer, released a statement that reflects the wishes of the majority of Torontonians last night. "On behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr. Mayor ... please get a driver. It is obvious that you are busy enough to require one and no amount of money you are saving by not having one is worth the life of one of your citizens."
To the mayor once convicted of drunk driving who is a passionate advocate for taxpayers, his priority has been customer service, against perks for politicians as well as reducing government waste. What the mayor is missing is the fact that Torontonians place the safety of our streets and the lives of our neighbors ahead of petty savings.
The mayor should accept a publicly paid driver immediately and if his focus is still to save and advocate for the taxpayer -- he should live his words and even consider paying for it himself.
He sure can afford it.
Follow Samuel Getachew on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GetachewS