The remarkable downfall of Toronto mayor Rob Ford

PICTURE: THE CANADIAN PRESS / Nathan Denette
Picture: The Canadian Press / Nathan Denette

You would think that a politician’s career would be over if he or she was caught taking crack cocaine.

However Rob Ford, the mayor of Canada’s largest city Toronto, is still in office after admitting taking the drug following months of allegations.

The scandal began in spring when the Toronto Star and US blog-site Gawker claimed to have seen a mobile phone video in which the mayor had smoked crack cocaine.

After months of pressure the mayor admitted he had done the deed in one of his “drunken stupors.”

As if that wasn’t shocking enough Ford has admitted buying illegal drugs whilst in office and drink driving.

He also is facing numerous other allegations which include threatening staff, using racially abusive language, consorting with a woman thought to be a prostitute and making sexual advances to a female member of staff.

Yet he is refusing to budge despite extremely strong political pressure and remains in office with his own TV show (Ford Nation) to boot.

I find it hard to believe that anyone who has acted in such a way and facing such serious allegations can justify staying in political office.

Moreover, since these revelations Toronto City Council has stripped Mayor Ford of the majority of his powers in a move which he has labelled as “coup d’etat.”

The actions taken by the council mean that Rob Ford is essentially a lame duck mayor and that most of his powers now reside with his deputy Norm Kelly.

Ford’s office budget was cut by 60% and means all of his staff are able to join Norm Kelly from now on.

He also lost the power to hire and fire the deputy mayor and the chairs of council standing committees.

If that wasn’t enough of a bad day at the office, Mr Ford accidentally knocked down Councillor Pam McConnell. 

However Ford is under the impression that removing his powers is out with the public interest:

“What’s happening here today is not a democratic process, this is a dictatorship.”

“You are absolutely telling everybody that voted in the last municipal election that their vote does not count.”

Although it may not seem it, these are very strong actions by the council as they can only remove a mayor if the latter has a criminal conviction.

To say the disgraced mayor seems mentally unstable would be an understatement. His relationship with the media has been strained from when he took office in December 2010.

Recently he has been aggressive but also apologetic, only to revert back to sheer defiance with some obscenities thrown in.

Spectacularly, he thinks staying in office is in the best interest of those living in Toronto despite recently admitting he is getting help off healthcare professionals.

Although Robert Ford insists he is not an alcoholic or a drug addict, I cannot help but think about former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy in this context.

Kennedy realised resigning was the best option after losing some of the support from his party following revelations about his drinking problem.

Toronto’s mayor has lost the support of the majority of his allies as well as his powers so you have to ask what benefits he sees from remaining in his position.

Already a significant number of people living in Toronto say they would not vote for Rob Ford in the 2014 mayoral elections under any circumstances.

Yet he insists he will run for re-selection on 27 October 2014.

I somehow don’t think the mayor of our largest city, Boris Johnson, would still have a political career if he were facing the same allegations and had admitted taking illegal drugs.

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