The questions, the accusations and the evidence mount. Satisfactory answers from Mayor Rob Ford? They are nowhere to be found. The people of Toronto are entitled to answers. Starting with: who, exactly, is the Mayor? What kind of a character is he and what has he been up to?
Voters cannot wait for the trial of Alessandro Lisi, his friend and sometime driver, and for a certain video to be entered as an exhibit – if it ever is. Mr. Ford is now on trial, not in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion. The allegations against him are shocking, and they are supported by ever more evidence. And the Mayor has, once again, declined to respond.
Bill Blair, the Chief of the Toronto Police Service, says that police have a copy of a video that “is consistent with” the one that was seen earlier this year by Toronto Star and Gawker reporters. Mr. Ford said in May that the video was one that “I have never seen or does not exist.” He called the allegations “ridiculous” and said, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.”
We now know that the video exists. And that’s just the start. The latest round of allegations are another bombshell. They include photos showing furtive meet-ups, where accused drug dealer Mr. Lisi would leave mysterious bags in Mr. Ford’s car. How can he remain Mayor if he will not even attempt to answer to any of this?
On Thursday, Mr. Ford emerged from his office to offer one of his classic non-answers. He played the same old record. Before insisting that he had to hurry back to the important work of answering phone calls, he said he could not comment, because the matter is before the courts. But it is Mr. Lisi’s matter that is before the courts; Mr. Ford has not been charged with any crime. He is at liberty to answer all of the key questions about his conduct. His refusal to do so disrespects the office and the voters.
And then there’s the video. It has been seen by three reporters and the police; when will the public get its turn? Torontonians need to be able to see the video – or rather the videos. Chief Blair said that there is more than one. It is in the public interest that the police disclose them. Mr. Lisi’s trial may yet be years away; indeed, there may well be a negotiated plea, as with many criminal charges, so that Mr. Lisi’s case is never tried.
Voters must be able to see for themselves whether it is Mr. Ford in the video or videos and, if so, what he is doing.
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.