Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

There's only one reason to care about Rob Ford's personal life

By: Metro Published on Tue Mar 26 2013

Does Mayor Rob Ford like to drink? Does he like to drink a little too much? I don't know. I don't care.

And you shouldn't care either.

As long as the mayor isn't driving while impaired or endangering anyone, the choices he might make at the LCBO, out on the town or anywhere else away from official city business are of no real concern to me. While I’ll always be supportive of decisions to seek treatment for problems relating to addiction or whatever else, it’s not on me to decide who has a problem and who doesn’t. I'm in no position to be throwing around judgments about how someone chooses to live their private life.

But news that the mayor was asked to leave the Garrison Ball last month because he was “speaking in a rambling, incoherent manner” and because “organizers were concerned that he was impaired” does seem to be the kind of thing that can't be brushed aside. Because here, once again, the mayor has seemingly allowed his personal life to impact his public life.

That distinction is important.

Section 134(c) of the City of Toronto Act makes it clear: one of the mayor's key responsibilities is to “act as the representative of the City both within and outside the City.” I'm no lawyer, but to me that probably means the mayor is expected to maintain some decorum when out in public — that at the very least he should be expected to hold it together at fundraising events he's attending in an official capacity.

At these kinds of events, the mayor should be up at a podium droning on about how great Toronto is, not exhibiting behaviour that allegedly pushes colleagues to ask him to leave.

If Ford is struggling to do even that, and if this kind of behaviour continues, then we do have reason to be concerned about his fitness for the position. Not because of whatever might be going on in his private life, but because he can't seem to keep his private life from impacting the job he’s been elected to do.

Canadians should be very proud that we generally avoid holding our politicians up as tabloid figures. We tend not to turn our politicians into Kardashians, and for good reason. I honestly do not want to write about anything related to Ford's personal life. Instead, I want to write about his policies. Yes, I am generally an opponent of this mayor, but I want to spend my time launching a fury of righteous and factual attacks on the politician and his policies — not the man and however he might choose to spend his time away from the office.

The man, whatever his flaws, only becomes relevant when he lets the private bleed into the public. I'd suggest that Ford has been doing that too often. That’s the only part of this story you should really care about. And that’s the only thing that should change.

This post was originally published at on 2013-03-26T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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