A new opinion survey shows that Mayor Rob Ford’s support has fallen and his chances of being re-elected are fading. Forum Research says that he has an approval rating of 28 per cent, the lowest in a Forum poll since voters elected him in 2010. Just 20 per cent of respondents said they would vote for him, compared with 38 per cent who said they would vote for Olivia Chow, 28 per cent for John Tory, 5 per cent for David Soknacki and 4 per cent for Karen Stintz.
To which the only thing to say is: about time. For months after Mr. Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine, polls showed that a substantial minority of Torontonians continued to back him. Reporters who visited this city from elsewhere always asked: How could a mayor who used illegal drugs, lied about using them and consorted with a criminal element while using them still enjoy such support? The fact that, even now, one in five Torontonians would vote for a character who has brought such shame on his office is still a little astonishing.
Thankfully, his numbers seem to be dropping. Only a couple of months ago, Forum had him running second to Ms. Chow. Now he is a poor third. And no wonder. Even in rehab, he continues to generate headlines. Last month we had the Escalade escapade, in which a woman stopped behind the wheel of his black Cadillac was charged with impaired driving.
Then, last week, came another report from City Hall security, first obtained by the Toronto Star, in which a guard said Mr. Ford “appeared to be intoxicated” in an after-hours visit to his office on Easter Monday. The mayor’s brother Doug says he was merely suffering from “muscle spasms” after a taxing workout.
For those who are inclined to write all of this off as personal behaviour unconnected to how Mr. Ford does his job, there is a whole other category of dubious mayoral conduct. Almost from the start of his term. Mr. Ford has shown a troubling tendency to use his public office for private purposes. He used government-paid staffers to help out with the football teams he coached. He pushed city officials to hurry up with road work outside his family business in Etobicoke.
Now it turns out that he and Doug helped a printing company lobby city hall for work. As reported in The Globe and Mail last week, the brothers arranged for executives from RR Donnelley and Sons to meet with city officials to make their case. What the Fords did not reveal to city staff is that their family firm, Deco Labels and Tags, was trying to strike a deal with Donnelley to get the printing company to refer clients to Deco.
Nothing came of the lobbying and Doug says that Donnelley referred “zero” business to Deco. But the dangers of having the mayor using his influence to aid a company that could help his own family interests should be obvious.
Mr. Ford seems entirely blind to the problem. The Globe recently unearthed another case in which the Fords intervened with city officials for a client. As the paper summed it up last week, “In 2011, the Fords arranged meetings with the most powerful bureaucrats in the city in an effort to help Apollo Health and Beauty Care, a beauty products company for which Deco has made labels, obtain a $2.5-million property tax grant, a stop sign designation and assistance with a building permit.”
It is just the sort of thing that Mr. Ford used to decry when he ran for mayor, pledging to put an end to cozy inside deals and bring a new era of transparency and accountability to city hall. So much for that. Mr. Ford richly deserves his falling numbers.