The evening of April 30, 2014 delivered yet another sad chapter in the story of Rob Ford. I had attended an amazing event, the InsideOut Toronto LGBT Film Festival, a crucial community that has been repeatedly scorned and cast aside by the Fords, where I had been talking to people and hearing their issues and concerns for our city. I then raced to an exciting meeting with my campaign team when, an hour into the meeting, everyone’s phone seemed to go off simultaneously. The latest Ford bombshell had exploded over the city. We kept working.
As a lawyer, I am trained in a number of things. One of them is understanding character: the character of good guys, of bad guys, and quite importantly, of bad guys who pretend to be good. My job also depends on clarity of mind, critical thinking, and an absolute insistence on having all the facts before presenting an argument.
Let’s take a deep breath and think about what’s important here. It is clear that our current mayor is not fit to be present as a serving member of city council in any form. But we’ve known that for a long time. He has undisputed problems with alcohol, drugs, misogyny, racism, misplaced family values, lack of self-control and inappropriate public behaviour. This is not news. His decision to step away long overdue. But stay away? Do not count on that.
Aside from the cost to his wife and children, his antics have cost the city dearly. That is why, rather than focus on Mr. Ford at this moment, I would prefer to focus on the city moving ahead.
It is time to move forward with strong, unyielding leadership, from someone who knows how to make tough choices, how to be accountable, how to be a voice of reason, and how to think bigger and longer-term. After all it wasn’t only the mayor who fell from grace this week. The campaigns of Mr. Tory, Ms. Chow and Ms. Stintz have all stumbled in recent days, failing to grab the faith of the voting public, and resorting to name-calling and cheap stunts to win back attention. They will use the sad events of April 30 as an additional blaming exercise.
Toronto doesn’t need this. We need someone who can engage, debate and act, with clarity and purpose. That’s what I can, and will do.
AND, as TV’s Lieutenant Columbo used to say, one more thing. Don’t count Mr. Ford out of the race just yet. My lawyer’s intuition suggests that he will return, late-summer, rising like a phoenix, back into the media limelight. He may return looking physically fitter, trimmer and healthier, announcing that he has kicked his habits, atoning for his mistakes, claiming once again that he is not perfect and seducing a wide swath of Toronto voters with a contrite “underdog-back-from-the-ropes” story. He and his brother are shrewd political players. I say this now not to pile scorn upon him at this moment, but to issue this strongest of warnings: While I would love to be proven wrong on this, I expect the October 27th election to still be a battle between the Ford brothers and a single, strong opponent.
I have that strength, as well as the economic and tactical experience, the plans, and a singular and fearless dedication to the success of this city, to fight and win a tough election and to steer our city back into more prosperous and dignified waters.