Tag Archives: Toronto

Partygoer Rob Ford overstays his welcome

Ford Nayshun ahead. . .Lock up yer daughters Hog Town

Ford Nayshun ahead. . .Lock up yer daughters Hog Town

On any given day, I drink a glass of wine with supper. I do not show up at office parties in any state other than one of profound and sober resignation. And if, at any point in the evening, my wife asks me to leave with her, I am happy to oblige. Quietly.

For these reasons alone, I am fairly certain that I do not qualify to fill Rob Ford’s shoes.

If you’ve been off planet these past few years, you won’t know that he’s the mayor of Canada’s largest city, North America’s fourth biggest metropolis, the Centre of the Universe, Hog Town, Toronto.

You also won’t know that Mr. Ford admits that he has smoked crack cocaine and bought illegal drugs, that he knows people in low places, that, in a video, the 300-pound-plus baby throwing a tantrum over some sleight, real or imagined, is, indeed, his goodself.

He even admits that he might just need some professional help, even if that’s only a trip to beachfront bar in Fort Lauderdale this Christmas vacation.

The tragicomic antics of Canada’s very own Boss Hogg is not merely the biggest story in Toronto these days. It is the only story, numbing all who come within its orbit with vast doses of intrigue, mendacity and outright sleaze. If you’ve ever witnessed a train wreck in progress, you know that to look away is impossible.

“Did you hear the latest from that guy?” the cab driver asked me on the way in from Pearson International Airport last week. “He says he’s done all those things in a drunken stupor, and he still won’t resign. It’s like he’s proud of himself or something.”

I laughed and mentioned that his dear, old mum told an interviewer the other day that the only thing wrong with her sonny boy is that he’s packing a bit too much weight.

Without missing a beat, the cabbie quipped, “Yup, especially between the ears.”

Moments later, I found myself in the outer office of a Bay Street type, for whom I was doing some consulting. His assistant told me he had been delayed and asked if I would mind waiting. After ten minutes, my client emerged, red-faced and chuckling.

“Sorry,” he said. “I just had to see the end of the latest press conference. You know what? Television does not do justice to our colourful mayor.”

Of course, not everyone is laughing. The mayor’s public approval ratings, which actually shot up following his admission of cocaine use, are plummeting. Even his once ardent defenders and confederates are calling for his ouster.

Meanwhile, Canada’s national newspaper is beside itself with old-school Toronto opprobrium.

“How is this man still the mayor?” last Thursday’s Globe and Mail editorial beseeched. “He’s an admitted crack smoker, and an admitted liar about it. He’s been publicly drunk – ‘hammered’ and ‘extremely, extremely inebriated,’ in his own words – on several occasions. . .On Wednesday morning, he confessed to having purchased illegal drugs while mayor; by mid-afternoon, police documents ordered released by a judge were detailing a whole new series of allegations, by his own staff, of intoxication and drug use.”

In fact, there’s nothing especially instructive about any of this; no great lessons in civics and public administration may be plucked from this fiasco, save, perhaps, one:

It seems broadly absurd that Toronto, that most sophisticated of burbs, that beacon of commerce and culture, is utterly powerless over the machinery of its own governance. Why is there no code of conduct for elected officials, including the mayor, that makes things like illegal drug use, public drunkenness and bald-faced lying impeachable offences, the penalty for which is summary dismissal?

Rob Ford won’t quit for two reasons.

The first is he doesn’t have to.

The second is, despite his protestations to the contrary, he’s having way too much fun directing his own, personal psychodrama before the camera’s vacant stare. Every day that passes, he ups the ante by issuing fresh confessions, accusations or sundry pornographic observations lest the pot of public outrage and disgust stops boiling.

This is, after all, Rob Ford’s party and, apparently, we’re not allowed to leave.

Not yet.

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Hog Town’s Ford farce on world tour


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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