As the City of Toronto descends into a carnival, and serious business grinds to a halt, what do we know for sure in the chaos?
That two more members of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s staff walked out the door on Thursday, bringing the total to five since last week, of whom a majority, perhaps four, were resignations.
That the mayor’s chief of staff, Mark Towhey, was concerned enough about something he was told by his colleague Dave Price, that he called the police. Mr. Towhey was later fired.
That Toronto police interviewed members of the mayor’s staff, and that the public has not been directly told – that is, by someone speaking on the record – what the subject was.
That two people seen in a photo with Mr. Ford were shot, one fatally. Mr. Ford’s explanation is plausible – he has his picture taken with many people – but let’s face it, it doesn’t look good, and virtually everyone wonders if that’s the real story.
That Mr. Price, who was brought in last month to help Mr. Ford, was reported in this newspaper to have been a partner of the mayor’s brother, Doug Ford, in dealing hashish in the 1980s. (Mr. Price has chosen not to comment on the allegation. Doug Ford says the allegations are false.)
That Ontario’s Information Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, was concerned enough about unsourced allegations that e-mail and other files of Mr. Ford’s staff were ordered destroyed that she sent a public letter asking him to confirm that the records have not been and will not be destroyed.
Mr. Ford’s loss of credibility is not his problem alone. It’s the city’s. It has important issues to take care of, from transit to labour costs, and difficult negotiations to be done with the province, whose premier has just declared that he needs to deal with his “personal problems.” Nothing can be accomplished in this atmosphere.
Political staffers are a breed known for their loyalty. Are the staffers “maggots,” the word Mr. Ford has attached to news reporters, not just on his radio show, which he apologized for, but in a news videotape shot in a convenience store? Is Ms. Wynne a maggot, or the Toronto police, or Ms. Cavoukian?
Mr. Ford has denied that any videotape showing him smoking crack cocaine exists. On Thursday, after the two political staffers left, he faced the media to say, as he said about the earlier resignations, that he encourages his staff to pursue other opportunities. He claimed the city’s business goes on, but these rote denials have not changed the narrative. He needs a plan to extricate himself, his tattered credibility and the city of Toronto from the mess they are in.
What is Mr. Ford’s plan to put his credibility back together again and set the city back on track?