By PATRICK HUNTER
If Mayor Rob Ford was an honorable man, he would step aside or resign his position until the matter of his alleged crack smoking is resolved. If it cannot be resolved before the next municipal election, then he should be able to stand for re-election and let the people decide whether he is fit to continue being mayor.
This is a complete mess. Allegations have been made about Mayor Ford’s activities by journalists for a respectable newspaper. Both the journalists and the newspaper, The Toronto Star, are essentially staking their reputation on the validity of their story.
The Mayor’s first response to the allegations was: “Ridiculous”. After a week of silence, Ford finally read a prepared statement which, in part, said:
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video I have never seen or does not exist.”
Somebody is not telling the truth, or somebody is being less than honest.
Newspapers and reporters make mistakes. Only a few weeks ago the same Toronto Star was forced to apologize to Margarett Best, MPP, for falsely suggesting that she was on vacation in Mexico when she was supposed to be on sick leave. It is therefore possible that the reporters were misled.
However, given the nature of the story, you can bet that the reporters’ notes and other supporting information were gone over with a fine-tooth comb before the story was published.
Now, it is important to look at the words used in the Mayor’s statement. I am not a lawyer but I have to believe that if I were advising Ford on a statement to refute a charge, I would tell him to be more definitive.
My advice, providing this was true, would be to say something to this effect:
“I do not and have not used crack cocaine. Further, to suggest a video of me apparently smoking crack cocaine is absolutely impossible because I would not ever be in that situation.”
The difference between the two statements, to my mind, is that the latter should leave no doubt that the allegations would be unfounded. It further suggests that the Mayor’s actual statement leaves room for doubt.
I find it incredible to believe that whoever was or is advising Ford would not see the loopholes. Would they not have seen that it opens the door to a lot of other speculation which would cloud the Mayor’s credibility?
For instance (and this is a big one), for the Mayor to say that the video “does not exist” without further qualification as to its possibility, could suggest that he may have acquired the video and had it destroyed. After all, if he were in fact in the company of the people involved, in all likelihood he would be able to get in touch with them.
As it stands now, the owner or owners of the video have apparently demanded a payment of $200,000 for its procurement. The Toronto Star has refused to pay that amount. The other source that claims to have seen the video, Gawker.com, has raised the money through public donations to acquire the video. Meanwhile, the owner of the video has apparently gone to ground. Could someone have acquired the video and told the owner to disappear?
Another development in this saga was the firing of the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Mark Towhey. The reason for the firing, as reported in the media is that Towhey had suggested that Ford “get help”, apparently for drug or alcohol abuse. Towhey has not indicated for the record what his advice to the Mayor was that got him fired, but did confirm that that he “did not resign”.
Now, hardly had the ink dried on the Mayor’s statement when the Globe and Mail ran its own story on what can best be described as the “shady past” of the Mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford. Of course, Doug has vociferously denied the allegations of drug dealing in the Globe’s story.
The Globe’s weak leg is that all their informants wanted to remain unidentified. Nevertheless, they are standing by their story.
I hope that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Premier as well as members of the opposition at Queen’s Park are taking note of what is happening at the City level. There is apparently no mechanism by which the people of the City can fire the Mayor mid-term. The only opportunity comes every four years with an election. Until then, the Toronto brand sinks into disrepute. Changes need to be made.
Oh, and calling journalists “maggots” does not help the Mayor’s situation. He has since apologized for the remark which was made on the Sunday radio show he co-hosts with his brother, Doug.