Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Let there be no political redemption for Rob Ford

By: Matt Elliott Metro, Metro Canada Published on Thu May 01 2014

Rob Ford should resign.

Yeah, I know, you’ve heard that before. It’s not a radical statement. It’s not even a new statement. People have been saying it for months.

It was a fair thing to say the first time there were credible reports that the mayor had been captured on video smoking crack-cocaine while uttering racist and homophobic statements. It was an even fairer statement after police confirmed they had retrieved that video and verified its contents, indicating that the mayor had been lying to the public for several months.

And now, with reports that the mayor has been captured on video appearing to use drugs again, was recorded making misogynistic and hateful statements and was allegedly seen using cocaine at a night club, it’s a statement that seems blindingly obvious. Rob Ford should no longer serve as Mayor of Toronto. There should be no question. A stint in rehab will not change the necessary outcome. He should vacate the job. He should not return.

I’m not saying that people who struggle with addiction don’t deserve patience and understanding. I’m saying that elected officials who have let their addictions impact their job — coupled with a history of racist, homophobic, misogynistic and generally offensive comments — should not continue to be elected officials. There are things that you can say or do that should disqualify you from public office. Ford has said or done a bunch of them.

Sure, there should be an allowance for second chances. But Ford has had many chances. He had a chance last year, but he ignored advice from his staff to go to rehab and instead decided to brand the journalists who had seen video of him using drugs as “maggots” and pathological liars.

He was given another chance months later, after his lies were revealed, when he claimed to have resolved his addiction issues by going to the gym a few times a week. That also failed.

Maybe Ford as a human being — a husband and a father — can find redemption. Maybe 30 days in rehab will help with that.

Frankly, it's too late to care. I've spent a lot of time over the past few years trying to justify the mayor’s bad behaviour, telling myself he’s a well-meaning person with his heart in the right place.

But now, after so many reports of him saying truly terrible things, I’m not convinced there was ever any reason to believe that was true. It's best to leave that kind of judgment to the people who know him.

But on a political level, there’s no reason to let this continue. There’s no reason to give Ford another opportunity to spin a redemption story. There’s no reason to let his scandal cycle continue to spin. There are 44 members of council more capable of running this city than Ford. There are dozens of potential mayoral candidates more capable of running this city than Ford. Many of them have a passion for this city and its future, and a range of ideas for how to make things better. Some of them can even keep property taxes low and make sure nobody charges you more money for your car. Ford offers nothing that they do not.

All Ford does offer is perpetual scandal.

After so many public failures, there’s no reason to believe he’ll ever change, especially not as he continues to insist on staying in the public eye. Toronto just needs him to go away. We just need Rob Ford to stop.

This post was originally published at on 2014-05-01T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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