“We must move forward,” Mayor Rob Ford said on Sunday. He acknowledged that, yes, “I made mistakes,” did “a lot of stupid things” and should “curb my drinking,” but that, he insisted, is all in the past. “If there was a button to push to change everything, I would,” he said on his radio show.
Sadly, that is not possible. His transparent attempt to change the channel and get back to mundane issues such as the future of Casa Loma – one of the things he discussed on air – is already falling flat.
His radio talks did little to lift the cloud that has been hanging over the city since the scandal broke wide open last week. Many city councillors were unpersuaded by his limited mea culpa. He disappointed those who were hoping that he would resign or at least take a leave of absence to deal with his troubles.
Instead, he promised to hire a driver, owned up to a couple of episodes of public drunkenness and said he was sorry. But sorry for what? Genuine reform begins with admitting the problem. Apart from the two episodes – one of them a disgraceful, drunken evening at City Hall – he did not admit to anything.
He did not explain his association with a suspected drug dealer. He did not explain the mysterious packages that police saw passing between the two men. He did not explain why they exchanged all those calls after reports of a drug video came out. He did not say what, if anything, he knows about attempts to get hold of that video.
He did not say whether he has responded to police attempts to interview him. He did not say whether he knew Anthony Smith, the man, later murdered, who stands beside him in a notorious photograph with two others. His performance left a hundred questions hanging.
The mayor has not even come close to explaining his behaviour or making up for the spectacle he has made of himself. At the very minimum, he needs to give the city a full account of his actions, his associations and his issues.
If you listened to the mayor on his show, you would think that he was simply a guy who had a few too many drinks from time to time.
Especially disappointing was what he said about that notorious video. He urged the police to release it and promised to explain it as best he could. “Put it out there and I’ll speak to what’s in it,” he said. “It is what it is.”
This is the same video, remember, that he earlier said does not exist. Now he wants to explain it? He has gone from denying it to preparing for its eventual release.
The ground is shifting under Mr. Ford and he is shifting with it, from denial to contrition. Now that he has said sorry, he seems to think he can simply move on and leave all this behind him. It is too late for that. The city needs more than a vague apology. The city needs answers.