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Explaining the Rob Ford scandal to kids: Now that’s a tough one

Mayor Rob Ford ‘has lost power and legitimacy at city hall,’ Councillor Janet Davis said.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

"Mommy, why did our mayor smoke crack?"

Toronto parents could use a hand with this one, especially now that Rob Ford has refused to back down as a role model for kids.

Mayor Ford welcomed children on a tour of his office Wednesday, according to photos tweeted by CBC reporter Jamie Strashin.

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Twitter followers responded with horror. "I'd be furious if my child was allowed anywhere near him," Newstalk1010 radio host John Downs tweeted.

But now that Ford's mayoral scandal has become the butt of jokes, notably on The Colbert Report, there's no way to shield children from the inconvenient truths of Mayor Ford's "mistakes."

The obvious approach to explaining his erratic behaviour would be a public service announcement modelled after the famous 1980s fried-egg commercial: "This is drugs." (Cue the crack smoke.) "This is your mayor on drugs." (Footage of Mayor Ford admitting to smoking crack "probably in one of my drunken stupors.")

"Any questions?"

If only it were that simple.

How to convince a child that doing drugs will ruin your life when the mayor plans on running for re-election? How to explain the devastation of substance abuse when his train-wreck choices have barely made a dent in opinion polls?

Even after Toronto's police chief confirmed the existence last week of a video showing the mayor allegedly smoking crack, Mayor Ford's approval ratings rose five percentage points, to 44 per cent, Stephen Marche noted in an op-ed for The New York Times.

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So much for educating kids about logical consequences.

Worst of all, the sensationalism of the Ford scandal has drawn attention away from a growing list of many other stupid, narcissist and egregious acts allegedly committed by the leader of Toronto the Good.

But somehow, parents must explain how such a person can reach such heights without an epic fall from grace. Maybe they should just try to prepare their kids for what is to come.

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