Rob Ford's truth -

Rob Ford’s truth

On the allegations of drunkenness, the voters will decide


Rob Ford, of course, denies everything. Up he got on Tuesday, for his 39 seconds of rebuttal.

“Number one, it’s an outright lie,” he stammered to a City Hall press gallery, in response to a Toronto Star report that claimed he’d been asked to leave a function and, what’s more, had a drinking problem. “It’s the Toronto Star going after me again, and again, and again,” he said. “They’re relentless, that’s fine. I’ll go head to head with the Toronto Star any time. Let’s just wait, just let’s wait, let’s just wait ’til the election is, and then we’ll see what happens. It’s just lies after lies and lies. And I’ve called you pathological liars, and you are, so why don’t you take me to court? Let the courts decide. You guys are liars!”

At this point, his press secretary got him off the podium. Rob Ford subsequently went to ground, and hasn’t been heard from since.

Where do we go from here? It was the kind of performance that could have ended the career of a lesser man, but not Rob Ford. By now, citizens of Toronto have evolved a natural immunity to their mayor saying or doing something completely humiliating, followed immediately by the mayor insisting that it was everybody’s fault except his own. A visitor without such immunity might be shocked into some kind of uncomfortable awareness, but we’ve been desensitized into safety. It’s a good thing. It keeps the invaders out.

Ford is faced by some pretty damning evidence. One of his most reliable allies, Councillor Paul Ainslie—a genial scout leader from Scarborough with a true-blue voting record—felt compelled to ask that the mayor leave a military ball Ainslie had co-organized after at least eight people complained about his behaviour. This is not an anonymous source making an allegation; this is something that an elected and allied member of council says he did, before documenting it by e-mail.

The broader allegations of a drinking problem are harder to prove. The Star here relies on anonymous members of the mayor’s staff, present and past, which are credible given the newspaper’s track record of accurate (if hostile) coverage, but less saleable in the court of public opinion. Still, Ford’s erratic behaviour is on the record, and calls out for explanation.

In the last week alone he was reported to have shown up “disheveled” at a Shabbat gathering of Orthodox Jews, and pounded out a pro-casino speech that, by the Toronto Sun’s account, left other politicians cringing in embarrassment. Then he risked causing a mistrial in a first-degree murder case by spontaneously calling a legal affairs talk-show and—in a clarion call for personal responsibility for the accused—insisting that “you can’t defend that.” The lawyers on the show were left scrambling to explain the law to him.

In most places, the playbook for public officials caught in the mess is to come clean, stop the bleeding, issue a carefully worded apology, and then declare the matter closed. Canadians are a forgiving bunch. This is John A. Macdonald’s country, after all. Gordon Campbell had a DUI mugshot taken while he was premier of BC. Ralph Klein, who was the mayor of Calgary before becoming Alberta’s premier, drunkenly yelled at the homeless at a shelter; he thereafter admitted to problem drinking and swore he’d curtail it. Even here in Toronto, councillor Ana Bailao, after a false start, issued a tearful apology for her own DUI, pleading guilty and paying a fine. (At the time, Ford issued a statement. “Councillor Ana Bailao did something wrong and she’s taken full responsibility for her actions.”)

What did Rob Ford do this time? Well, he called everyone a liar. As a solution to his problem, it has a certain elegance. There aren’t a lot of moving parts to it: No fuss, no muddle, no explication and, as a bonus, perfect congruence with all the other times he’s lashed out at accusers.

This week, he gave only two refutations to the evidence presented against him. The first was his “I know you are but what am I?” legal strategy: Instead of suing the well-prepared Star for libel, he called them liars and demanded they sue him instead. But the second refutation was more telling: “Let’s just wait, just let’s wait, let’s just wait ’til the election is, and then we’ll see what happens.”

This is Rob Ford’s truth. The facts will be decided not by reality, but by the people, on election day. The visitor from abroad might think that a pile of damning evidence might sway the vote against Rob Ford, but that is to misunderstand Toronto. In Toronto, Rob Ford’s voters will absolve him of the pile of evidence.

It’s a schoolyard view of the world, in which truth flows from popularity and power. He’s used it to run his administration like a radio phone-in show, talking to just one crowd with a mix of pandering and fabulism. It’s also the outlook that’s landed him in a ditch, with his budget chief quit in disgust, his transit chief rebelled, his inner circle falling away, his influence gone.

And it’s a view of the world that many of us have enabled. Ford was resoundingly elected despite a widely reported history of both intoxication and denial. It had a legitimizing effect: Initially, even his foes in politics and the press deferred to the people’s decision that this was acceptable. For Ford, tragically enough, it was a mandate to keep doing what he was doing.

He seems resolved to keep doing it. The only way forward for Rob Ford is straight to the election. Only the popular vote can right his wrongs, and only the people can prove beyond a doubt that anyone who doubted him was simply telling lies.


Rob Ford’s truth

  1. Ford Nayshun is a lost cause. We can only hope the rest of the electorate isn’t quite as stupid.

    • oh yes – like Olivia Jack Chow is going to be better. She will bankrupt this City with her NDP mentality. No thank you – better the Ford you know than the Chow you make not like.

      • The fact that Ford supporters tend to be illiterate in these forums is a pretty strong anti-Ford argument, all by itself.

    • Of course, they’re all stupid who didn’t vote for Smitherman or Pantalone. I mean, the choice was so easy, wasn’t it? Would you call those who voted for either of those two stupid too?

      • Um, no. During the campaign of 2010 it was all too easy to get caught up in the toxic stream of resentment that Ford exploited to win the election, as his triumph shows. The events since then ought to have demonstrated quite clearly, however, his inability to lead council, build coalitions, mould public policy, work and play well with others, follow the rules, or even comprehend the basic requirements of the job. Anyone who can still support him at this point is either living on another planet or not paying attention to anything beyond shallow, stupid catch-phrases. So yeah. Ford Nayshun? Thicker than pig sh1t.

  2. Regardless of what’s causing his behaviour, all he is doing is further dividing Toronto. A lot of the people in the suburbs work downtown, our government is there, we share taxes, infrastructure, and friends and family. There is no good reason we should be at each others’ throats all the time. Downtown transit is good for the suburbs. It will take cars off the road and make your commute easier and less congested. Paying for the repairs to the Gardiner is a good thing for everyone who has to come in to the city. Federal and Provincial levels of government are not going to come to Toronto’s rescue and give us back any of the taxes we pay into their coffers. We are going to have to pay for this city ourselves, and that means tolls and taxes. It just is that way, and screaming and blaming the lefties or the righties isn’t going to help anyone. We are on our own here, and Ford is endangering the health of the city by telling the suburbs that there is a war between us and the downtown. Harris amalgamated the city, which did us very little good, so blame him if you want, but this is how it is. We can’t separate now, and whining and fighting is just going to bite us all in the butt.

    • your sound reasoning and thoughtful points are of no use to Ford Nayshun.

  3. That’s some good, clear-eyed writing there, Mr. Tossel. And while it’s true that The Nation will always abide, its diminution is sadly (if crankily and loudly) palpable. Nice use of ‘enablied’ as well. Regardless, we’ll all power through. One day at a time.

  4. Forget the Toronto Star/left wing/city hall conspiracy that he’s so fond of quoting; Rob Ford is his own worst enemy. And there’s a mountain of evidence to back up that claim.

    • No – the Toronto Star is Ford’s worst enemy. Just check the front pages – every day.

      • is reporting the truth now called being your enemy ???

      • I guess you would also have to include Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and of course Paul Ainslie. I guess they’re all part of the conspiracy against Mr. Ford.

  5. I don’t think he is drunk, just dense. And somehow, in this day and age, being stupid and uneducated is some sort of sign of being a man of the people and a victim to rally around.

    His continued existence in any sort of official office is a very sad commentary.

    • Ralph Klein used that very same ruse to become Premier of Alberta. He was a man of the people. Someone who cleaned up the huge economic mess left behind by Don Getty. And, he was a notorious drunk.

    • Drunk AND Dense. But also sly as a fox, if it’s possible to be all three.

  6. Should Ford run for re election again he will win in a landslide. As aMayor he has lived up to his promises and he has stopped the bleeding on spending at City Hall. the left are outraged. the voters not so. i would say the he will win re election easily once again. This looks like a witchunt to me. Nobody is perfect. He has done a good job thus far. He gets my vote — again.

    • You’re an idiot.

    • $500 million in “gravy” per year, Privately funded subways, zero service cuts, I’ll quit coaching football – wait, which promises did Ford live up to again?

      • So true Ian. Rob has failed and will continue to fail to fulfill his election promises. Of course, if you only listen to him – you will think he still has a say in the day to day operations of the city. But he doesn’t. He has one vote and council has ignored him since about ten months after being elected.

    • Hey rickromain lettuce. You have outed yourself. You are Rob Ford aren’t you! BWAAA. Oh, or maybe his brother doing his bidding for him

  7. toronto deserves ford !! what a buffoon !!!

    • Well, rickromain deserves him, anyway. Not sure what the rest of us did.

  8. Any city happy to have a petulant child as it’s mayor can stop any dreaming about being “world class” — this man would be an embarrassment to hooterville.

  9. Toronto will always be a bush league city with a bush league mayor, the 2 go well together.
    Mel Lastman, Rob Ford, that’s what Toronto deserves. They are the laughing stock of the country. But I will say they are better than Montreal which is run by the mafia.

    • Mel Lastman was high strung and quirky… but he was pretty good at convincing the province to spend Toronto’s fair share of tax revenues back into the city, something Ford has been unable to do.

      Sure Ford can claim to have saved the city of Toronto millions, but Mel Lastman can say he got billions back from the province/feds.

  10. Good cars, No?

  11. Amazing how all the papers mags and news programs always talk about politicians and the truth when the above do anything on a daily basis but spread lies, rumours, gossips and untruths