Nov 8, 2013 / By: Duane Booth / No Comments
The Rob Ford saga moved squarely from a mayor who has brought disgrace to his city to a very public meltdown of a sick man.
And his foes are beside themselves with glee. In turn, a great many of them are also bringing great shame to the city of Toronto.
Without diagnosing alcoholism, Mr. Ford clearly has a drinking problem. He may, though we cannot be sure, have a problem with drugs. Whatever the extent of his substance abuse, he needs to step down and get help. He may, in fact, need to be ousted for his own good.
My father is an alcoholic who quit drinking when I was just a toddler. Even so young, I saw what just what happens on the path to the moment where help is sought. It’s not pretty.
Addicts rarely come to get help without a fight. They insist they do not have a problem and that there’s nothing wrong with them. Just a rough patch, it’ll never happen again and continue on with the business at hand.
Until they hit rock bottom.
Ford’s belligerence and defiance of recent days is no different than what plays out daily by addicts the world over, minus the intense media glare.
Since long before Ford was elected in 2010, his foes were merciless in how they attacked him. If only they could help themselves and stick just to attacking his policies and how he handled his job. No, they have made it intensely personal. His weight. His awkwardness. What he drives. What he eats.
When he slipped trying to catch a football snap at Grey Cup celebrations, they pointed, laughed, sent the embarrassing photo to everyone they could think of.
He was filmed going into a KFC to pick up dinner for the family while he was on his worthwhile but ill-fated weight loss program. His haters pointed, laughed, sent the embarrassing video to everyone they could think of.
Ford provided them with much fodder over the last three years. And they were right there, on cue, ready to mock, belittle and celebrate every failing of a very, very flawed man.
That’s called bullying. Plain and simple.
It’s been particularly disgusting coming from the gay community that, when it felt slighted by Ford, attacked his weight in every conceivable way even as they have fought against bullying directed toward them. “That’s OK, it’s the Pride Parade, we don’t need a Macy’s Day float,” one gay man stated. “He doesn’t want to show up because they can’t find a flat-bed truck big enough for him to fit on,” wrote another on Facebook.
Class acts, they are.
Ford has been the butt of many jokes of late as his fall plays out internationally.
It was already brutally mean-spirited, but it’s starting to take on a very dark and ugly tone.
Ford’s admission of his transgressions while in a “drunken stupor” has become a new punchline, right along with every slur and epithet imaginable about his weight.
Alcoholism and obesity are very serious problems. They are included in Human Rights Codes as a disability that must be accommodated to the fullest extent possible. Ford’s critics seem to think nothing about taking self-righteous glee that they have afflicted the mayor they so despise. They’re anything but accommodating.
When reports surfaced earlier this year about Ford’s public drunkenness, the media and his critics crowed about how making this all public was about “encouraging” the mayor to get help as though public shame and ridicule is how you lift an addict from the depths of his own despair.
Do they ever think for a moment the message they are sending to any other person who might be suffering the same afflictions?
He may be the mayor. He may have let us down. But he is human. His struggles are the same as those faced by many people each and every day. We elect our representatives and our leaders from among our own ranks, and they are a reflection of all of us, flawed as we all may be.
Anyone who thinks Ford’s closest election rival, George Smitherman would have been much better need only consider that the former Ontario cabinet minister often dubbed the “Minister of Scandal” had his hand in scandals costing taxpayers billions, was a notorious bully who was abusive to staff and constituents (“Furious George”), and admitted to being addicted to party drugs while in office.
The more the pointing and laughing continues, the further across the line Mayor Ford’s critics cross.
It’s anything but the affording the respect and tolerance in which this city likes to wrap itself.
They’re not only watching the self-destruction of a man who is all a father, a son and husband. They’re doing everything they can to ensure he is truly destroyed. In doing so, they’re pointing, laughing and belittling anyone else who suffers a drinking problem or struggles with obesity.
At this moment, this is Toronto’s true shame.
Oct 31, 2013 / By: Duane Booth / No Comments
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has done exactly what those of us who supported him in 2010 expected of him. He and his administration changed the culture of tax-and-spend that had gripped City Hall year after year with precious little to show for it.
For that, I admire and respect him.
We knew from the start he would fumble and bumble his way through his time in the mayor’s chair just as he’d fumbled and bumbled his way through his time as a city councillor. I wish there had been a more fitting standard bearer for the cause, but he earned his shot as Toronto’s top elected official and won it in a landslide.
We also knew his critics would be rabid and pounce on even the smallest thread that could not just tarnish him, but outright destroy him politically and personally. His mayoralty has brought out a dark and ugly side from those who despise the fact that someone “like him” could ever be mayor of a “world-class” city.
Following today’s revelation that the much-hyped video that allegedly shows Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine and making off-colour comments is now in police’s possession, it’s clear the sideshow must come to an end.
Mayor Ford must step down. For the good of the city. For the good of himself.
It’s the right thing to do.
His agenda can and must continue. Those of us who supported him 2010 can and will find a new standard bearer we can get behind in 2014 to continue us on the right path Ford and his administration have set us upon.
The people of Toronto deserve better.
Oct 23, 2013 / By: Duane Booth / No Comments
Senator Mike Duffy stands up and delivers a “bombshell” that he met with Prime Minister Harper and his then-chief-of-staff Nigel Wright to discuss his being caught bilking the taxpayers on expenses.
What happened at that meeting? Apparently Harper told Duffy to repay the expense money. Duffy goes further saying Harper wanted him to do so to keep from rattling the “base” of the party. Harper, Wright and others have suggested Duffy was told to “do the right thing.”
What the hell is wrong with that?
Even if Duffy is correct that Harper’s suggestion was for optics rather than due process, the suggestion is right in line with what Canadians expect of their political leaders.
The federal Liberals threw a couple million bucks at their friends to convince Quebec to stay in Canada during the sponsorship scandal. Charges were laid and money was ordered repaid. Whether it has been or not, is unclear.
The Ontario Liberals blew $1.1 billion to basically buy re-election in a handful of ridings in the last election by cancelling gas plant contracts. So far no one seems to want to give their mea culpa on that one.
Sure, Nigel Wright wrote Duffy a cheque to pay back the expenses, but who cares? He’s a wealthy man and if we wants to help Duffy do the right thing by loaning him $90,000 sobeit.
After realizing the optics were not good, Wright stepped down, though he really did nothing improper or against the rules. He did the right thing.
The more layers the opposition and its water-carrying media friends peel back off this onion, the more it looks like Harper was actually doing something political leaders of ages past should have done all alone — making those he leads “do the right thing.”
Oct 9, 2013 / By: Duane Booth / No Comments
Toronto City Council voted today in favour of the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line into Scarborough over the previous plan for a light-rail system to replace the rickety RT.
The 1.6 per cent municipal tax increase to be phased in over three years is wholly reasonable to help fund this project. Federal and provincial money is on the table, even though the province seems to be on a whole other page when it comes to what is being built.
We’ve seen this all before. Councils vote for one plan, then another and then another. The province commits its money to one plan, then another and then another. The feds blissfully stay out the fracas knowing it’s not their place.
It’s time to just build the damn thing.
A subway in Scarborough is not the city’s most pressing need, but if someone actually gets a shovel in the ground and starts carving out the tunnels, residents in the city will have taken one small step towards what they really want for transit.
Then politicians will be free to start a decade of bickering over the much-needed Downtown Relief Line.
Sep 22, 2013 / By: Duane Booth / No Comments
Pope Francis has signaled to his flock that we should no longer be hung-up on sexual morality. The left, particularly left-leaning media outlets, are all gasping in shock and disbelief that a Pope would dare not want to bash gays.
Radical, they call it. Groundbreaking. A stunning turn of a centuries old institution.
Except it is nothing of the sort.
Instead, what Pope Francis is telling the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics is to get back to basics of their faith — love thy neighbour, we are all sinners, and leave the final judgment to God. That’s his job, after all.
It’s so refreshingly old-school.
Our political and government institutions can learn a thing or two from Francis’s unquestionable leadership early in his tenure.
When the institution has strayed so far off its course and become unmanageable and becomes too big an intrusion in one’s life, take a step back and go back to your roots.
In today’s hyper-partisan world, that may be the most radical idea out there.