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Toronto mayor Rob Ford heads back to his office after an audit compliance committee meeting wrapped up on Feb. 25, 2013. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto mayor Rob Ford heads back to his office after an audit compliance committee meeting wrapped up on Feb. 25, 2013. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Why the public should care if Mayor Ford was misbehaving Add to ...

Should we care if Mayor Rob Ford appears in public seeming overly refreshed (a charge, by the way, he vehemently denies)? Is it any of our business?

Many would say no. Didn’t Churchill go through much of his brilliant career half pickled? Can’t many people function reasonably well even with a couple of drinks under their belt?

The question is whether it is affecting his job performance. If the mayor is indeed appearing at public events in a state of intoxication then it matters very much indeed. His job, when he is out in public, is to represent the city. It goes without saying that he can’t do that effectively if he is, as the Star’s sources allege, incoherent or rambling.

Remember, too, that the mayor drives himself everywhere, refusing to accept an official driver. If he was under the influence at the ball – and it bears repeating that he calls the Star story a lie – was he driving under the influence too?

This, of course, is the second such allegation in the past few weeks. Former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson said that an “out of it” Mr. Ford groped her and flirted inappropriately at another public event. He denies it as fiercely as he denies the Star story.

But then Mr. Ford denied it when a couple at a hockey game in 2006 said he verbally abused them. He later admitted the incident, saying he had too much to drink. He denied it when the Toronto Sun found out he had been busted in Florida in 1999 with a joint in his possession, then, when confronted with the evidence, said he had simply forgotten about it. Put into the mix a domestic dispute at the Ford home in 2008 and you have an apparent pattern that makes it hard to brush off the latest allegations.

If Mr. Ford has trouble in his private life, most people would be willing to let it go. We don’t generally pry into the personal behaviour of our politicians and that is a good thing. When personal issues bleed into public duties, it is another thing. Is it merely undisciplined habits that account for the mayor’s erratic, secretive schedule and spotty attendance at city hall, you have to wonder, or is there something else going on that is keeping him from fulfilling his responsibilities?

This is not just a matter of prurient interest. Is the mayor up to the job? Does he have problems that are affecting his performance? We have every right to know.

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