Greetings from Toronto, where the video of Mayor Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack cocaine has returned to the headlines. For this we can thank police chief Bill Blair, who revealed on Thursday that his investigators have found a copy of the Ford recording on a computer they seized in a gang raid. (Apparently there are still some things law enforcement can do that red-hot crowdfunding campaigns can't.) Mayor Ford says he sees "no reason to resign," and one poll showed his approval rating actually increasing slightly after the police announcement about the video. But given this development, it's hard to imagine him retaining the support of even his most dedicated base for very long.
It's not that people could never accept or get over the idea of the mayor of the country's largest city doing illegal drugs. For better or worse, we've grown surprisingly accustomed to granting those in power a pass on breaking drug laws (though from a PR standpoint, it would have helped if instead of crack, the mayor had chosen pot, which is considered so much less gauche). The more significant problem is Ford's reaction when the story broke back in the spring. He didn't come clean. He issued terse, but vague and awkwardly worded, denials. If what we've been told by no less credible a source than the chief of police turns out to be true, it will seem no exaggeration to conclude that Ford either lied, or deliberately avoided clarifying the truth (and the latter is not so far from the former).
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.
For more on the Rob Ford controversy, catch me, Adam Goldenberg and David Simmonds on tonight's 3 to Watch panel on CBC's The National.
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