Rob Ford

Monday, 26 May, 2014

Words by Leonard Krasny
Illustration by Sarah Layton

If you’ve ever met any Canadian people, no doubt you found them warm and open: living proof of the strong culture of tolerance and diversity of the wonderful country.

Which is why it’s so hard to believe that Rob Ford is still the mayor of Toronto, Canada’s most populous city. His outrageous crack-smoking antics have made him the butt of jokes at home and abroad, and his drunken rampages have revealed his unsavoury thoughts about women and ethnic minorities.

In May 2013, the first of the infamous crack videos emerged, featuring the then-treasured mayor taking a huge hit from a glass crack pipe. When the media barrage began, Ford initially questioned the video’s credibility, before later conceding that it was indeed him on film. He justified it by putting it down to “one of my drunken stupors.” But is drunkenness an excuse for such conduct, even when Ford’s alcohol use appears to border on the addictive?

Unfortunately for the larger-than-life mayor, there is always some individual who manages to capture Ford’s nights out on the piss on film. The most recent video emerged last month thanks to Ford’s own drug dealer, who auctioned the crack video out to various Canadian news outlets. It shows Ford in his sister’s basement (who reportedly also has a drug problem), brandishing a long copper-coloured pipe and “frantically shaking his right hand” post-drag.

Ford’s “drunken stupors” are just as damaging. In January 2014, another video documents him almost unintelligibly imitating Jamaican patois in a fast food joint. He’s also been caught insulting gay, black, Indian and Italian people. His sexist rhetoric is pretty repellent too, with elegant references to cunnilingus and a declaration of his desire to “fucking jam” a fellow female mayoral candidate.

Remarkably, the Toronto City Council still doesn’t have the legal right to kick him out of office. While they did vote to strip him of many (though not all) of his powers as mayor, only Ford himself decides if he stays or goes. Not only refusing to resign, Ford has committed himself to standing as a candidate for the next mayoral election.

That is after he goes to rehab, thankfully. Following the hugely negative public reaction around his recent crack video, Ford has decided to temporarily step down as mayor to address his alcohol and drug problems at a rehab clinic. And while a drinking problem does not make his bigoted remarks any less offensive, getting help is definitely a positive step for Ford and his family.

Let’s face it: a crack-smoking mayor sounds a bit comical. But, in the end, all people, regardless of status, wealth or background are susceptible to the dangers of excessperhaps even more when that person is in a position of power. Let’s wish Rob Ford luck at rehab, but hope he abandons any plans for re-election.