Prime Minister's Office wades gingerly into debate over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford - Macleans.ca
 

Prime Minister’s Office wades gingerly into debate over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford


 

OTTAWA – The Prime Minister’s Office is piping up for the first time about Rob Ford, whose self-admitted drug and alcohol antics have made the mayor of Toronto a figure of infamy around the world.

The allegations against Ford, who admitted last week to having smoked crack cocaine “probably in one of my drunken stupors,” are “troubling,” said Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Conservative government has been largely mute on the international media circus unfolding in Toronto, in part because the Tories have previously allied themselves with the popular, straight-talking mayor.

Monday’s public acknowledgment came with a pointed reminder: Justin Trudeau, the popular and media-friendly Liberal leader, has admitted to using marijuana while in office.

“Our government does not condone illegal drug use, especially by elected officials while in office, including Justin Trudeau,” MacDonald said.

“We’ll continue to work with all levels of government on shared priorities, such as jobs and economic growth. That includes working with mayors and city councils, including the mayor of Toronto and Toronto city council.”

Trudeau made headlines in August when he admitted to having sampled a joint in past, at least once since becoming an MP. He’s also advocating the legalization of marijuana.

Harper has yet to publicly acknowledge the controversy raging daily over Ford and the crisis that has paralyzed city hall in Canada’s most populous city.

The Ford saga has taken unexpected turns on an almost daily basis in recent days, and Monday was no exception.

City council stripped Ford of much of his mayoral power, but not before an extraordinary debate marred by a shouting match with public spectators, an accidental bodycheck against a female councillor and a jarring comparison to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

As a shouting match erupted between Ford and members of the public, the besieged mayor seemed to charge a heckler but instead knocked down a female councillor, leaving her with a bruised lip.

The collision with Coun. Pam McConnell elicited yet another public apology from Ford, who at one point was seen making drinking and driving gestures at another councillor.

Ford’s original admission about smoking crack cocaine was linked to a single instance that was caught on video. But in excerpts of an interview aired on CNN’s “New Day” Monday, he admitted to having “smoked some crack sometimes.”

Ford told reporter Bill Weir he was “sick and tired” of the allegations, hence the admissions.

“I’m not going to run around and be phoney and lie,” Ford said. “I’m not going to have someone try to blackmail me and say they got videos of this.”

The mayor said he hadn’t smoked crack in over a year and again denied he’s an addict.

Last Wednesday, Ford admitted buying illegal drugs while in office, and a day later sparked outrage by making a crude sexual comment on live television.

He has steadfastly refused to take a leave or resign since reports surfaced in May of a video that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine.

Police said they had recovered the video but have refused to release it.

— With files from Colin Perkel, Allison Jones and Keith Leslie in Toronto


 
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Prime Minister’s Office wades gingerly into debate over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

  1. so Jason MacDonald (spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper), equates
    the Rob Ford situation with Justin Trudeau…

    absolutely breathtaking.

    • I think it’s kind of refreshing that the PMO and their mouthpieces have completely given up on appealing to reasonable people and are targeting their message exclusively to the moron contingent. Screw the fiscal conservatives, the hell with the Libertarians, sayonara to the swing voter, we’re going after the idiot voter full bore, 24/7, and damn the torpedoes.

  2. The Trudeau-Ford comparison is obviously bunkum. At the same time, perhaps we do need a conversation about when substance abuse problems – past and present – warrant attention, and even the removal of politicians from office.

    Plenty of politicians have/had alcohol problems. John A Macdonald and Ralph Klein come to mind. Plenty have used cocaine, some while in office. This list includes Andre Boisclair, George Smitherman, Barack Obama and George W Bush.

    From the standpoint of voters, I don’t think substance abuse matters *until* it starts impacting a leader’s ability to do their job. Rob Ford’s alcohol abuse clearly has (I would argue that his crack use is *probably* not endemic, whereas his vodka use is). Similarly, when Ralph Klein threw a book at a page you could see evidence that his problems had moved from the private sphere to the public sphere.

    The reality is that plenty of drunks/druggies actually did a reasonably good job in office. Similarly, there may even be some moderate drinkers whose drinking is a problem. When Gordon Campbell was pulled over for drunk driving, his private life became public. When Richard Nixon (also a moderate drinker) was drunk during the 1973 crisis over the Yom Kippur war (during which the US raised its nuclear alertness levels), you could say the same.

    Our evaluation of the performance of leaders should, at its core be about actual performance. It is in that light that I see Trudeau’s issues as minor, and Ford’s issues as major.

    • The crack use may not be endemic, but it still should have been fatal to his political career. Not because he would be intoxicated on the job but rather because:
      1) it means he associates with criminals and
      2) he put himself in risk of being blackmailed

      • Both are true in Ford’s case, however, I’m not sure they work as a general rule against crack.
        1. It is possible to obtain drugs without directly contacting with those tied to organized crime (e.g. if it is offered at a party). And while illegal actors are involved somewhere down the line this is true for both crack and marijuana.

        2. Politicians might be blackmailed about a lot of things. Lets say a male politician (who is straight as far as the electorate knows) has sex with another man while in office. Would you say such a person is unfit for office because of the potential for blackmail?

        Indeed, anything that plays poorly against the petty prejudices of the electorate is blackmail-able. You could tape a leader going to the can and sink their political career.

    • I think I need to see a citation that Obama used cocaine in the WH, if ever. Personally, I think it’s BS.

  3. Wasn’t Jason MacDonald the one who told us that Nigel Wright had the support of the PM because he acted to save taxpayers money and there would be no resignation.

    Then we thought there was a resignation, but we were wrong. The PM has now revealed that he fired Wright on the spot… dismissed him. However, the means that Wright was fired the day before Jason MacDonald said there would be no resignation.

    Why would Jason MacDonald lie about such a thing? It seems deceptive, doesn’t it?

  4. The Tories are troubled by Ford and outraged by JT…these guys can’t even be bothered to hide their distain for principle.

  5. “Straight talking” Made me chuckle – cheers!

  6. The law and order Harpercrites remain strangely silent on the openly-admitted criminal activities of their kindred spirit, the Mayor of Ford Nation. Strangely conspicuous double-standard they’ve got going there, fueled by massive doses of cognitive dissonance.

    They must be looking for a way to use RoFo’s zany escapades as a way to fundraise from the Con base.

  7. I recall Stockwell Day smoked marijuana.

    • You spelled “Doris” weird.

  8. Did the guy cry? Because Jim Flaherty nearly started bawling when he talked about Rob Ford.

    • Hey there is nothing wrong with crying. When someone purports to be a good friend of a person who is an addict nearly breaks down crying, it shows how seriously concerned they are for their friend’s well being. Ralph Klein definitely cried the day after he got drunk and threw money at homeless people. The life of an addicted person is a very troubled one for themselves, their families and their friends. Addiction negatively impacts every relationship and every facet of a person’s life. Their career is just one facet.

  9. Sitting here listening to Doug Ford being interviewed on Canada AM. He’s railing against the TO “Social Elites” who he says are out to get his brother. This from a son of a provincial Cabinet Minister and a very well-off family who counts the Federal Finance Minister as a family friend.
    Irony at its’ best.