When news broke on Friday that Toronto's self-immolating Mayor, Rob Ford, had been approached by an American reality-TV producer about starring in a show of his own, we immediately hit on a potential title: Lowering the Bar with Rob Ford. Although, on second thought, Mr. Ford may have already used up all his best material. His contention, also last week, that confusion over the state of a major police investigation into his actions is proof that he has done nothing wrong has now lowered his ethical bar to such depths that any further attempts by him to pass under it will require tunnelling equipment.
Mr. Ford's message to the voting public is this: I may have smoked crack while in office and I may have lied to your faces about it; and shady characters in the drug underworld may have recorded me on a cellphone video while smoking said crack; and I may have a very close friend who has been charged with extortion related to attempts to recover that video from gang members after its existence became public knowledge; and I may have been recorded on other occasions ranting incoherent, inebriated death threats and calling the Chief of Police unmentionable names; and I may have referred to my wife in a startlingly vulgar manner; and I may have purchased illegal drugs while in office; and I may have driven drunk; and I may have alienated the entire City Council and been politically neutered; and I may have made Toronto, in particular, and Canada, in general, a laughingstock; but I have done nothing wrong.
As Mr. Ford put it in a recent interview, "I am not a criminal." That's his ethical benchmark. As long as he can get away with illicit behaviour and demonstrate singularly poor judgment – and do it from this side of a jail cell – he considers himself solid mayoral material.
The truth, of course, is that the police investigation is still going on, and that Mr. Ford has done plenty wrong. The list above was not exhaustive, and it doesn't even touch on this stuff you would normally judge a politician on, namely his bad political ideas. He is not mayoral material. That said, we don't deny his appeal to the producer of such shows as Top Hooker and Ghost Hunters. Maybe he could star in a show called People Who Should Not Be Mayor. You know, with people like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Lindsay Lohan...