Toronto’s problems go beyond Mayor Ford’s drug and alcohol use


Getty Images/AFP/File, Tom Szczerbowski

Getty Images/AFP/File, Tom Szczerbowski

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is becoming a darling of the US media; in fact the beleaguered mayor was the lead story on yesterday’s Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield on CNN. Mind you the fact that Canadian Ashleigh Banfield hosts the show may have something to do with that.

The mayor made a semi-apology on his weekly radio program on Sunday but was adamant about not resigning. Stating unequivocally that he is neither an alcoholic nor a drug addict, Ford turned on the police demanding that if they do have a video of him smoking crack, as they have inferred, the people of Toronto have a right to see it – as does he.

I agree with Ford on that. It doesn’t auger well for high-level relations between the mayor and the police or any sense of municipal cooperation when the chief of Toronto’s police says he was embarrassed as a Torontonian by what he saw the mayor doing on the video, but left it at that. That is what Chief Bill Blair did last week. If you’ve got the evidence lay the charges, if you don’t, don’t imply you do.

But a much greater concern than one individual’s drug and/or alcohol use exists, even if that person is the Mayor of Toronto.

But what people should keep in mind is that regardless of whether Ford is or isn’t an addict, many of whom are honest hard-working members of society battling an illness, if he is shown to have ties with underworld figures can it be assumed he has compromised the office of mayor? By steering the public conversation to his “mistakes” with drinking, is he trying to obfuscate the real issue of a mayor engaging in illegal activities?

His public mea culpa will no doubt tug at the heartstrings of many, and may lead to an even greater increase in his approval rating that has been going up since the scandal broke. But a much greater concern than one individual’s drug and/or alcohol use exists, even if that person is the Mayor of Toronto. Namely the possible tainting of the office of mayor of Toronto.

And what is it with Toronto’s mayors? As a Montrealer I’m in no position to criticize any city’s mayor on grounds of corruption, but it seems Toronto mayors have a penchant for ham-stringing the city in matters of public relations. If it isn’t Rob Ford all over the media for all the wrong reasons it was former mayor Mel Lastman in 2001 blowing any chance the city may have had to land the 2008 Olympics by stating just prior to a trip to Kenya to promote the city’s bid: “I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me”.

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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