Surprise, surprise, Rob Ford has made the news again. The Globe and Mail has reported they saw a video of Ford smoking from a crack pipe. The dealer who filmed Ford says this video is from this past weekend.
I know what everyone is thinking – again?? and cue the jokes!
I feel this ongoing Ford scandal and media frenzy highlights two major issues: a deficit within municipal politics, and the way society treats drug addiction.
Let’s pretend this issue was to do with the Prime Minister or a Premiere for a second (heck, even a leader of an opposition). What is different and what is the same? All positions require voters to elect the individual into the legislature, however, in municipal government, there are no parties. There is not a ‘back up’ person or group of people below the leader that hold the leader accountable. If the Prime Minister was smoking crack and doing similar things as Ford, the public would not need to worry. The legislation would remove him from power and the party would select an interim leader and an election would likely be triggered. Just like when Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty resigned (not over drug use, obviously) and Kathleen Wynn was later selected by the Ontario Liberals to be the leader. But, at the municipal level, there is no party! There is no accountability! There is no alternative leader! Sure, there is the deputy mayor, but this person is not part of the mayor’s party and has no power to overthrow the mayor. This deficit can only be addressed by the province, as MacFarlane points out in Globe and Mail article. MacFarlane notes that Wynn would need to grant municipal governments the ability to impeach a mayor in dire situations such as Ford’s. Moreover, this is troubling for our municipalities as it proves that a mayor can be tied with criminals and face no penalty. How can a mayor represent and lead a city while fueling the drug market at the same time? It seems hypocritical to me and is not a message I want our children to believe is okay.
Secondly, Ford demonstrates our views on drug addiction. Ford the butt of many jokes, even across the USA where our news rarely is noticed and most people have no clue who or how our government is and works. Also, Ford and his family have been publicly denying his drug issue. I remember seeing an interview with his mother and sister and they believed his issue was his weight, and not alcohol or drugs. I have the feeling it is not all that uncommon for loved ones to make excuses when a family member is struggling. Addiction is a hard and evil thing to struggle with and dragging his addiction through the news for our entertainment is wrong. I believe it is bad enough that he and his family had denied his issue (though maybe they address it privately – who knows), but to me, it is no laughing matter. Seeing someone out of control is sad, not funny. This is not just with Ford, though. We see it with many celebrities. These days it seems that all celebrities visit rehab for one reason or another, like it is a prerequisite for being famous. But why are our idols so driven to drugs and alcohol? Is it the media? Is it the stress? Or has it always been like this but social media is simply making it more visible? Whatever the reason, I believe we need to stop using these addictions as entertainment or a badge of honour and start solving the problem. We need to work on preventing addictions before they develop, rather than focus on mopping up the mess afterwards.
Fortunately, Ford has publicly noted he is taking a break from his campaign to “seek help” for his alcoholism. Again – no mention of drug addiction.
October 27, 2014 can’t come soon enough so Toronto can move on and the Ford family can refocus their attention towards their personal issues.