Marcus Gee

Opinion: Toronto has had enough. Rob Ford must resign

The Globe and Mail

In this image, taken on July 23, 2013, Mr. Lisi appears to be showing Mr. Ford something on his cell phone outside Mr. Lisi's house, according to police reports.

Enough. After all the evasions, all the nonsense, all the denials, this should be the end of the road for Mayor Rob Ford.

The revelations on Thursday from police and from court documents give the lie to all the claims from the mayor and his supporters that he is the innocent victim of a conspiracy to sully his name and block his fight to stop the “gravy train.”

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That video he said does not exist? It exists, its reality confirmed by no less than the chief of police. This was not the invention of media “maggots,” in the mayor’s words. A video allegedly showing the mayor of Canada’s largest city smoking crack cocaine is in the possession of the authorities.

If that were not enough, the police have compiled a staggering trove of information showing the mayor consorting with a cast of shady characters that includes Alessandro Lisi, a man who stands accused of drug offences and, now, extortion. Whether the mayor himself ends up facing criminal charges, the information in this document places a stain on his office that cannot be removed except by his speedy departure.

If, a few months ago, he had admitted there was some substance to the mounting allegations about his behaviour, that would have been one thing. If he had said he had a problem and was seeking help, the city might have been forgiving.

Instead, he has steadfastly refused to comment, lashing out at his critics at every opportunity and accusing them of drawing attention away from his accomplishments. But it is he who has become the distraction, a humiliation for a booming, admirable city that deserves better. For the sake of the city and himself, he should step down.

Police Chief Bill Blair spoke for many in the city when he said that, as a citizen, he was disappointed. This is a sad moment in the life of Toronto.

It is hard to see how Mr. Ford can explain his way out of this now. Does he still think his friend Mr. Lisi is “a good guy?” How does he explain the suspicious packages Mr. Lisi left for him in his car?

The two talked seven times on the day that drug dealer Anthony Smith, who appears next to the mayor in an infamous photograph, was murdered. How does he explain that, given that he has never acknowledged even knowing Mr. Smith?

Mr. Lisi and Mr. Ford were in phone contact no less than 349 times in one period of 44 days. This was a close association indeed. Yet on Thursday the mayor refused once again to make any comment, hiding behind the insistence that it was all “before the courts” and repeated his tired boasts about saving taxpayers’ money.

It won’t do. Thursday’s revelations rip the veil from a shadow life that the mayor appears to have been living – a life that is not remotely consistent with his role as the city’s chief magistrate. He was elected to be a leader, someone to set an example for the city. Instead, he has become an embarrassment. Enough. Time to go.

Follow on Twitter: @marcusbgee

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