This post originally appeared on Shireen Jeejeebhoy's political blog at talk talk talk.
"Do the Toronto police have a video of Rob Ford smoking crack?" (Matt Galloway, Host of Metro Morning, 14 June 2013)
"Again, I'm not going to comment on any of the evidence because that's inappropriate." (Chief of Police Bill Blair on Metro Morning, in answer to Galloway's questions)
I'll take that as a yes.
"Is Rob Ford under investigation?" (Matt Galloway)
"Again, I'm not going to comment on this or any other investigation....And you know, the truth will come out. The evidence we have collected will come out." (Chief Bill Blair)
I'll take that as a yes, he is being investigated. But for what?
"Yesterday, you could've very easily exonerated Rob Ford.... Why didn't you do that?" (Matt Galloway)
"[Pause] Again, my responsibility here is to collect evidence within a legal framework...I'm unable to answer your question without violating the terms of the law and the spirit of the law." (Chief Bill Blair)
I'll take that as Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford is implicated in Project Traveller.
Drugs and guns.
As I tweeted, this turn of events is rather worrying. If Toronto's mayor was not implicated in any aspect of Project Traveller, whether the Dixon Road gang, the drugs, the guns, the men arrested in the Dixon Road apartments or the ones arrested in Windsor, then our Chief of Police could easily have said, "No!" But he didn't. And it's instructive that he kept repeating that he couldn't answer direct questions about Mayor Ford without compromising the evidence. Saying no would not compromise the evidence. Answering yes, would. But it would also open up a rapid-fire series of questions about how Toronto's mayor is involved in a raid on a drug- and gun-running gang.
"Are you troubled by the fact that there's a photo of the mayor with two people who were arrested, another person who's now dead?" (Matt Galloway)
"The photo's real. And we know who the individuals are in that photo." (Chief Bill Blair on Metro Morning)
I'll take that as a yes. I'm troubled that the police knew about the video showing Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine before Gawker and The Toronto Star revealed its existence. I'm troubled that the Chief of Police won't answer direct questions. I'm troubled that the wider implication is that Ford is involved with a gun-running gang, with people who smuggle guns up from the US, through Windsor, and into Toronto in order to shoot and kill people. Windsor is the entry point for guns into Canada and is where the video holder went to hide after the Gawker story broke. After this bombshell, I'm very, very troubled that city business could now grind to a halt. Although the water will run, the sewers will drain, and the hydro will hum, Council is going to go from the yelling we saw in Chambers on Thursday to outright chaos with battle lines drawn so harshly no possible reasonable discourse will occur. All attention is going to sit firmly on Mayor Ford and will not let up until the public, the media, and most importantly Toronto Councillors know the truth.
It's all very well for the Chief to say the truth will come out. But we all know that Canada's courts grind so slowly, frozen molasses flows faster. This case -- and thus the evidence -- will not be tried for several years, well after our next municipal election and after when the electorate needs to know.
Until then, anti-Fordites will harangue Mayor Ford. And Ford Nation will stick their hands over their eyes and buy another set of hands to put over their ears and insist on Ford's innocence, and worst of all to enable Ford's denial of the obvious by blaming everyone and everything else. Both sides in their eagerness to shoot at each other will hobble the business of Council.
It has been that militant campaign to protect Mayor Ford from himself, to keep the public from finding out about his alcohol and drug problems (and now with this raid, who knows what else) that has allowed Mayor Ford to avoid dealing with his health issues.
As a member of the voting public, I am outraged that people hid and lied about Mayor Ford's alcohol and drug abuse problems. Yes, our famous first Prime Minister Sir John A. was a drunk, but he was a functioning drunk. He founded a country and helped connect us from coast to coast. But though Mayor Ford successfully blustered and bustled his way through the election campaign and the first few months of his mayoralty, within a year, he had fumbled the most important issue facing this city: subways. We need subways. Torontonians relied on the mayor getting subways on the agenda and funded.
Why he screwed up so spectacularly when he had Council cowed because of the election results and willing to follow his lead for a year, was beyond me. Until now. Clearly, his health problems are and have been interfering with his ability to govern for a long, long time.
But while Mayor Ford is his own worst enemy, the ones around him, including his brother Councillor Doug Ford, have harmed the electorate more because they camouflaged what they knew was happening. They are also setting up Mayor Ford so that it makes it much, much harder for him to come out and say, "I need help. I'm going to rehab." As difficult as that is to do for an alcoholic in private life, it's harder for one in public life, and I would say impossible for one in public life surrounded by people actively denying he has a problem which is badly affecting the city.
I don't care about Toronto's reputation because, from my own experience, reputation is about what others say or think, and they will say or think whatever they feel like. There's not much you can do about that. But I do care that Toronto business will be arrested by this news. Past politicians' criminal neglect of our city's transit needs was just about salvageable. But now while projects continue forging ahead, Council will be so busy shooting at each other that by the time the truth is out, it will be too late to change the direction of some of those projects in order to get that Scarborough subway on the drawing board and the DRL sped up.
If Mayor Ford really gave a crap about our city, his city, Toronto, he would admit the truth to himself and to us and then put a caretaker mayor in charge, probably Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, and take himself off to rehab so that Toronto can get back on track. Perhaps in the end the raid will force the issue.