Why is Rob Ford still the Mayor of Toronto?
Late last year, Mr. Ford promised to put a stop to his out of control behaviour. Cocaine? He kicked it. After months of denial, and once a video of him smoking crack surfaced, he finally admitted to being a drug user. But he said that he’d denied it until then because it was already a past tense sort of thing – he didn’t “use” drugs, rather he had used them.
Allegations of drunk driving? He said he’d get a driver. The heavy drinking? Getting “hammered on the Danforth”? St. Patrick’s Day at the Bier Markt? Having to be escorted out of the Garrison Ball? Staffers who said he sometimes drank and was drunk at work? And his claim that he couldn’t fully remember doing cocaine because, on the night in question, he had been “extremely, extremely inebriated”? All over and done. In the past. Water under the bridge. No need to resign, or even take a leave of absence. He was, he told the world, already a new man.
On Tuesday, a new video of Mr. Ford was made public. It was taken on Monday night. Standing at the counter of the Steak Queen restaurant in Etobicoke, the Mayor is complaining, among other things, about the lengthy police surveillance of him and his friend Sandro Lisi. Mr. Lisi, remember, is a convicted criminal and accused drug dealer; he was at one time Mr. Ford’s unofficial driver, and some of the Mayor’s former staffers have told police that they suspected him of providing the Mayor with drugs. In the Steak Queen video, Mr. Ford is incoherent, and for a couple of reasons. He appears to be drunk. He’s also speaking in some kind of impersonation of Jamaican patois.
Not long after the video came out, Mr. Ford told the media that yes, that was him on tape, and yes, he had been drinking. But he said he was “with friends” and what he does on his “own time” has “nothing to do with you guys.” As for the accent? “If I speak that way, that’s how I speak with some of my friends.”
In some perverse way, you have to give the man credit: Just when you think he can sink no lower, he finds new ways of humiliating himself and cheapening his office. His uncut videos have become a staple of late-night U.S. television. He’s become this country’s most successful comedy export. But why is he still the Mayor?
This newspaper called on Rob Ford to resign last fall, after it became clear that he’d lied, repeatedly, to the people of the city. And now he’s been caught, once again, lying – or more precisely, lying about his promises to stop lying, and to stop drinking. Mr. Ford has been stripped of many of his powers, but he’s still the Mayor. And his continued presence, the endless scandals and distractions that he spits out, have turned city government into a three-ring circus. It will be up to the voters to send him packing at the next election, on Oct. 27.