Tag Archives: crack-cocaine

Hog Town’s Ford farce on world tour

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The world, it seems, cannot get enough of Toronto’s very own booze-guzzling, crack-smoking Falstaff. And he of coarse demeanor and rotund comportment is more than happy to oblige his growing audience.

“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Rob Ford admitted on Tuesday. “There have been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape.

I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape or video. I want to see the state that I was in.”

So, then, he was lying in May when he declared: “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict.” Not exactly, hizzonner said this week: “I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions.”

On the broadest interpretation of this point, if on no other, Mr. Ford is right. We in the media rarely ask the correct questions. If we did, then one question we might want to ask now is: Why is Hog Town’s chief magistrate enjoying a bump in this personal approval rating among municipal voters just as his confession to truly bad behaviour is transforming him into an international media darling?

To restate the question: Have we all lost our minds?

Chris Batemen, a staff writer at blogTO, has compiled a compelling assortment of  news items about the fine fellow from the world’s press. From his research, we know that Esquire has expressed an interest in Mr. Ford’s manners while under the influence of substances, illegal or otherwise.

“As it turns out, the mayor may have been the very model crack house guest, Charles P. Pierce blogged. Referencing original reporting by The Toronto Star, Mr. Pierce links directly to a November 5 story which observed, among other things, “The City of Toronto has refused to say whether Mayor Rob Ford paid utility bills for the Etobicoke crack house where he was photographed with three alleged gang members.

But a city official has confirmed that on January 7, Chris Fickel, one of Ford’s special assistants, called the city’s water department on behalf of resident Fabio Basso regarding a sewage issue at 15 Windsor Rd., said Toronto Water manager Lou Di Gironimo. . .The bungalow. . .is home to the Basso family, including Ford’s old friend Fabio Basso and his sister, convicted cocaine trafficker Elena Basso, who also, according to the police document, has a conviction for prostitution.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Marche wrote on the opinion pages of The New York Times, “The old clichés are beginning to fall away from the city where I live. What has happened to Toronto the Good? Where is ‘New York run by the Swiss’? Mayor Rob Ford’s crack smoking. . .is only the most extreme example of his recent illicit adventures. Perhaps the most telling anecdote from a police file that surfaced late last week involves Mr. Ford’s heading into the woods with his buddy Sandro Lisi, currently out on bail after being charged with extortion, and leaving the pathway strewn with bags of empty vodka bottles. His mayoralty has been an experiment in what would happen if you had a feral 16-year-old boy for mayor.”

Then there’s Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson, who has helpfully added Mr. Ford’s name to the list of the magazine’s Top Five Political Excuses of All Time. He joins former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, former New York Congressman Anthony Wiener, former mayor of Washington, D.C., Marion Barry, and former Idaho Senator Larry Craig.

Yes, yes, it’s all so very amusing. One wonders what Mr. Ford plans for a second act. A blood-letting for Heroine addicts at Nathan Phillips Square? It’s not as if he’s going anywhere, anytime soon. He loves the limelight. Indeed, in his fevered mind, his personal disgrace actually becomes him. And, absurdly, Toronto possesses no mechanism for booting him from office.

There is, of course, another audience who is not as rapt about the boy: It’s comprised of those who, like me, were born in the downtown and raised there. We can’t wait for City Hall to get back to work before the Gardiner Expressway finally crumbles along with Mr. Ford’s credibility.

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Toronto mayor stoops to conquer

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To fully appreciate public office at its worst, look no further than the front page of Canada’s so-called national newspaper last Friday. There, depicted in all his inglorious bluster, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is telling a mob of reporters that he’s staying put.

Forget the fact that his own police chief had, only hours earlier, confirmed that the long-rumoured video of Mr. Ford smoking what seems to be crack-cocaine is, in fact, real and that the Toronto drug force has a copy of it.

Forget the fact that the cops had just unloaded a trunk load of documents outlining more than five months of phone calls and meetings between the mayor and one Alessandro Lisi, an alleged drug dealer.

“The digital file that we have recovered depicts images which are consistent with those that have previously been reported in the press,” Police Chief Bill Blair said at a news conference on Friday. “As a citizen of Toronto, I am disappointed. I know this is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city – and that concerns me.”

The individual it should concern most, of course, is Mayor Ford. Apparently, it doesn’t. “I wish I could come out and defend myself,” he told reporters. “Unfortunately, I can’t because it’s before the courts. That’s all I can say.”

Others had plenty to say, most of it archly critical.

“If Mayor Ford truly has the city’s well-being at heart, he would step aside,” architect Jack Diamond told The Globe and Mail. “Whatever the courts eventually decide, the circumstantial evidence is enough to constrain the mayor on any issue to the extent that managing the city’s affairs can only be harmed.”

And, of course, the editorial pages of Hog Town clamored for Mr. Ford’s removal.

“Under (the) circumstances, having Ford at the helm badly undermines Toronto’s reputation,” The Toronto Star declared. “If Ford possesses even a scintilla of respect and concern for the city he is supposed to lead, he will step down as mayor.”

Concluded The Globe: “For months, Mr. Ford has been stonewalling. He can’t do that any more. His behaviour can’t be explained away, and he isn’t even trying. He’s simply ignoring and evading that which cannot any longer be denied. Toronto deserves better.”

I reality, Toronto is a big town. It will survive Mr. Ford, just as it has other public officials who have besmirched its reputation. The trains will continue to run on time. The wheels of the buses will continue to go round and round.

But “Fordgate” is a particular species of political scandal that seems be growing more common these days. When faced with evidence of their wrongdoing – or, the appearance of their wrongdoing – certain public officials seem to think that defiance, rather than circumspection, is in order.

True, none of the allegations against Mr. Ford have been proven in a court of law. (In fact, they are not actually before the courts). But the mayor of the country’s largest city at least owes a debt of indulgence to those elected him. He is an office
“holder”. He does not own the position of chief magistrate.

All of which is to say that the public institutions we trust to protect our democracy from perdition are only as good as the quality of the people we assign to run them.

Senator Mike Duffy blathers on about being knifed in the back by staffers at the Prime Minister’s Office, while accepting no responsibility, whatsoever, for his own considerable role in his undoing.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper changes his tune regarding his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, declaring that he “dismissed” the man. (He had formerly allowed that Mr. Wright resigned of his own accord).

As for Mr. Wright’s reputation, it seems broadly intact. His friends tell the Globe and Mail that he possesses “high integrity” and “unbelievable ability.”

All of which is to say that everybody makes mistakes. It’s what we do about them that counts in both private and public life.

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