Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Rob Ford scandal: Lies, consequences, and a mayor that needs to leave

By: Metro Published on Wed Nov 06 2013

After watching Mayor Rob Ford admit — finally — that he has used crack cocaine and then later issue a kind of half-baked pseudo-apology — again — I really just want to post a one-word blog entry. I just want to write the word “leave” in giant bold text.

Because, really, that’s the only message I have left for this mayor: he's got to leave. He’s frustrated and exhausted this city for too long with his scandal circus. His attempts at remorse have come too late, and only after every plausible avenue for denial was exhausted. And yet he still has the gall to say things like “I have nothing left to hide,” even though that’s a claim that’ll be rendered false by the end of the week — if not sooner.

If Ford won’t simply resign and save us the flailing attempt at a later political resurrection, he needs to at least step aside and take a leave of absence. Either way, the immediate move is the same: Ford has to go.

This has nothing really to do with the crack cocaine, of course. While some may want to turn this into some sort of ethical conundrum about whether it’s ever okay for an elected leader to maybe smoke some crack once or twice, the reality of the situation is that the drug use hardly matters. What matters is the lying.

And we’re not talking about a small potatoes brand of lying. We’re not talking about a few minor slips of the truth. We’re talking about a major, seemingly coordinated cover-up. Ford, who branded himself to thousands of very passionate supporters on the basis of being the one politician who would always give it to them straight, in fact lied repeatedly to those supporters and everyone else.

Worse, his lies and attempts to cover up those lies had consequences. Consequences that were potentially criminal. Consequences that were potentially violent. Consequences that we’re still learning about, bit by agonizing bit as police documents and court records get unearthed.

And consider the collateral damage. For months, Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, sold supporters a pack of tales about rabid media bias and large-scale political conspiracies. Since before the crack story even broke, they essentially accused talented journalists of making up stories, even as the mayor knew their stories were true. And they tried to drag the reputations of all those who criticized Ford through the mud, even though most of the things those critics were saying turned out to be fair.

And for what? Who benefits from Ford sticking around and continuing to fight? Not the so-called “taxpayer.” Ford doesn’t just save money by hanging around city hall. He doesn’t possess a magic rock that keeps socialist tigers away. In reality, he’s a mayor who can barely win a council vote, meaning that a great deal of his platform has gone absolutely nowhere.

His record won't get any better, either. If Ford stays, he’s got to face a council that’s in revolt, with members already moving to alter the procedural bylaws that govern city hall to limit Ford’s powers. If you think he’s ineffective now, just watch.

All this adds up to a situation where the only person who really seems to benefit from the mayor’s refusal to take a leave is Rob Ford himself. And that’s reason enough for him to go. Our elected officials have to put the good of the city above their own wants and desires. We have to demand better.

And better, in this case, means Ford finally doing the right thing for himself and for this city. He knows what that is.

This post was originally published at on 2013-11-06T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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