Where in the world is Rob Ford? And what is he doing? Good questions, and ones Torontonians deserve an answer to. Late last week, Mr. Ford went to Chicago, but he did not exactly arrive. As The Globe reported on Tuesday, he boarded a private jet bound for the American city, but when the plane reached its destination, the mayor "voluntarily withdrew his application to enter the United States," according to Roy Norton, Canada's consul general in Chicago. Mr. Norton says the mayor was "not denied entry, per se." But, for whatever reason, he was not at liberty to get off the plane.
So where is Mr. Ford now? We don't know. His city hall colleagues don't know. The public doesn't know. In last week's statement abruptly announcing a leave of absence he stated that "I have a problem with alcohol" – no mention of drugs – and "I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as mayor to seek immediate help." He also said that this help would be "professional help." Various sources told several media outlets that he was going to rehab, but that was never officially confirmed. When asked about his whereabouts late last week, the mayor's lawyer, Dennis Morris, said that it was his "understanding" that the mayor was at rehab in Chicago. The careful phrasing was perhaps necessary, since it turns out that the mayor never made it to the Windy City.
So what is the mayor doing? Is he in some kind of a drug and alcohol abuse program? How long will he be there? The mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, now says, "He's in rehab, and that is all everyone cares about. No one in Toronto cares about where he is." It's the usual Ford line: Trust us.
Trust is not the first thing anyone should give Mayor Ford. He has demanded it almost as often as he has betrayed it. He has a record of taking liberties with the truth, or denying it outright, and only changing his tune once irrefutable contrary evidence is presented. That describes his repeated denials and eventual admissions of various alcohol-fuelled incidents and drug use; it also covers his promises to get help for his addictions.
Last fall, after finally copping to excessive drinking and crack cocaine use – the latter explained by having been in a "drunken stupor" – Mr. Ford said he had somehow gone cold turkey on the drinking. He "guaranteed" that he had quit. He also claimed to be receiving unspecified medical help. But in his statement last week, the mayor seemed to be confessing to a fib, writing, "I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help." That would be the professional help he'd promised before.
Given that the mayor's term in office has been defined by repeated violations of public trust, and by a record of evasiveness, lying and lying about the lying, the refusal to say much of anything on what the most senior public official in the country's largest city is up to is a bit hard to swallow. Just tell Torontonians the truth.