Rob Ford's Toronto - Why he Needs to Step Aside
Mayor Rob Ford
I no longer live in Toronto, but for seventeen years I did. And it is for this reason that I am choosing to weigh in and pen this hub, I still have a lot of love for my hometown and I truly believe it deserves better than to be run by a man incapable of admitting his own addictions. The Toronto I grew up in was a very diverse place, the United Nations claims it is the most ethnic city on the planet, and having travelled around enough I can see why that would be so. I also grew up in Rob Ford's Toronto, the leafy streets of central Etobicoke in the west end, directly south of Rexdale where that infamous video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack was taped. These are the reasons why I think I understand the problems facing the city today and the reasons why Rob Ford must go.
It begins with an ideological political split between the conservatives and the liberals. Latte sipping downtown elitist liberals (Rob Fords language) vs honest hard working taxpayers (also his language). Defining things in terms of black and white is never good and never honest, but in the case of the Ford family it truly is hypocritical. Rob Fords father was a wealthy businessman and also a conservative politician in the provincial legislature, somewhat well known for his sharp mouth and quick opinions. His sons often tout similar views to their father and express them in similarly brash and offensive ways. In some ways it is unfair to tarnish Rob Ford with the brush of his family and also with his actions as a young man but it doesn't appear he has changed and so the pattern should at least be exposed. There are allegations that both Rob and his brother Doug dealt drugs in high school, not something that’s all that surprising, the global drug war makes it all too easy for young people to make extra money peddling weed, nor is it something I think that tarnishes them forever. I went to high school at Etobicoke Collegiate and couldn't count how many people were doing the same. However dealing drugs probably meant that they were also doing drugs and in light of recent revelations I think this may have been where it all began. There have been allegations of bullying, harassment, and political backstabbing going back to Ford sr and also being levelled at Rob Ford himself. There is also a family history of alcoholism and drug abuse, Rob Ford's sister is a recovering alcoholic and heroin user, this doesn't mean he is, but it does mean that he has a family background of addiction and is therefore more susceptible himself.
The media has been reporting on Rob Ford for some years now and has succeeded in creating a circus whereby he is almost never portrayed positively, and is most often vilified. However even though there is obvious bias in this, many of the reports going back to his 1999 arrest for DUI in Florida and 2008 dropped charge of domestic violence paint a picture of substance abuse, emotional instability and a violent temper. There really are too many examples of such behavior for me to single out just one, this is a pattern that spreads out across his lifetime. In many instances he has been caught inebriated and behaving violently as a result, such as the accusation of sexual assault labelled at him by a former political opponent. The easiest thing for me to conclude from all this is simply that he is a bad drunk. He tends to use offensive language as well sometimes not knowing that it is offensive, such as his speech to council about "those orientals" or his exclamation that building a homeless shelter in his area is an insult to taxpayers, I guess the homeless are not people and can be insulted right? The sum total of all this shows a man whose biases overtake his judgement, whose political philosophy is one of us vs them, and who is not self aware enough to realize that his behavior when on controlled substances is abusive and erratic, not to mention unbecoming to a city chief.
Denial here doesn't mean that he initially and for a long time denied the existence of the crack tape, any politician would do the same. What denial here means is that he doesn't understand the impact and consequences his actions have had, on himself, those around him and the city. Taken together, the crack tape, violent rage tape, countless past incidents of substance abuse paint a picture of a man with serious issues. He has been urged almost unanimously to either resign or take a leave of absence and he has been consistently refusing to do so, insisting that he is capable of running the city. But he has lost the support of the rest of city council, and there is talk that motions will be passed to strip the mayors office of its powers or that provincial authority will be asked to intervene. As things sit today there is no way for him to be forced out of office short of being charged with a crime, but everything possible to curtail his power is being done. But it has become abundantly clear to those of us following this that he is a man with serious and potentially dangerous substance abuse issues. He is serving no one by being in denial of this and the city is not being benefited by it.
Mr. Ford has a lot of support, his approval rating (44%) is currently higher than that of any federal politician, and the scandals surrounding him have not dented that. The support he has is in large derived from people who feel he represents the everyman, the hard working tax paying, beer drinking Joe. And he does represent these people, he returns all his own calls and is truly passionate about the people he represents and the city he runs. However he is also biased against the LGBT community, racist against minorities and hypocritical with his tough guy stance on drugs given that he has done them himself. Mr Ford is not honest, with himself or his constituents. He may truly want to do the right thing by the city and I don’t deny that some good has been done under his leadership, but he is in denial about his own problems and about his own connections to organized crime. In the end it is his dishonesty and refusal to take advice and seek help for his problems that make me believe he really needs to step down.