Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may not have quit on the city, but the city has quit on him. He is thus a mayor largely in title. The real power in the office is the mayor’s ability to influence and lead, but Mr. Ford’s credibility is gone, in light of his week-long refusal to address the allegations that he was seen in a video using crack cocaine.
It is an extraordinary situation – a mayor who has lost the public’s confidence, while the public and its elected representatives have no power in law to remove him or force him to respond in full to the allegations. But the city is not without leadership, and the mayor’s handpicked executive committee showed leadership by drafting a letter to him (still not public as of this writing) on Friday morning using its powers of moral suasion to urge him to make a clear public statement.
This was not an act of disloyalty to the mayor. Far from it. It was meant to protect the interests of the city, and to get some sense through to a mayor who had fired his chief of staff a day earlier (a voice of reason, gone). The letter can only serve Mr. Ford’s interests, too.
Encouragingly, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, a member of that executive who has always shown strong loyalty to the mayor, stepped to the fore. He stood in front of the assembled news media, which was itself a positive sign that people responsible for making the city work have not gone into hiding. In his low-key, gentlemanly way, and without implying that he has any inside knowledge about the allegations facing Mr. Ford, he said that the city will continue to function, that it does not depend on one man. He said Mr. Ford should speak to the public. “I don’t like the City of Toronto being shown in this light but it is what it is. We have to continue on and do our best. I think somebody has to say something on behalf of the administration.”
Mr. Ford has in some sense abdicated, but the executive committee’s willingness to confront him is a sign that the city is not bereft of leadership.