The weigh-in: Rob Ford


Rob Ford is back in the news again, and certainly not for the last time. Now it’s the possibility he ordered a serious prison beating.

Supporters — or bemused onlookers — often claim that these allegations don’t mean that Ford has been a bad mayor. Or that this type of conduct is just personal and whether he smokes crack or orders his enemies beaten is none of the liberal media’s business. What these criticisms fail to see is that these scandals aren’t even close to Ford’s worst moments.

In 2006 he refused to support AIDS donations by the city, claiming the only people who have to worry about AIDS are gay people and drug users. And he implied that only women who sleep with bi-sexual men will get AIDS.

In May 2012, he attacked a reporter who a neighbour had accused of trespassing on his property. No charges were filed for trespassing, and the alleged intruder was found to be doing nothing wrong.

His substance abuse, even aside from the crack cocaine, is outrageous. After a St. Patrick’s Day party he wandered around City Hall and the surrounding area drunk, yelling abuse at a taxi driver before being escorted home by security.

The most serious allegation, however, was of domestic abuse. Ford was charged in 2008 with uttering threats and assault upon his wife, though the charges were later withdrawn. Police have responded to several domestic abuse calls at the Ford house. So fine, maybe if Rob Ford smokes some crack now and again he can be an effective mayor. But he’s not just a recreational drug user: he’s violent, abusive and outrageous.

And his personal record isn’t half as damning as his professional one. Conservative supporters often delight in Ford’s image as a tax-cutting, heavy-drinking honest politician. But he’s just the opposite.

Ford came into office promising to end the ‘gravy train’ of special privilege, excessive taxes and wasteful spending. He’s failed to do much of anything substantial.

Instead of strengthening Freedom of Information access, improving transparency or taking substantive anti-corruption steps, Ford proposed to dismiss three major watchdog positions. You’d think Ford might be more inclined to defend positions designed to investigate administrative failure.

The 2012 budget, which became infamous for cutting libraries, parks and privatizing zoos, ended up becoming a non-starter.

While cost cutting did play some part, the discovery of a $270 million surplus was chiefly due to a new land transfer tax, which Ford pledged to remove. After the surplus allowed him to reduce cuts in the budget and maintain his reputation, he didn’t bother trying to reduce it until 2014.

After promising to reduce special privilege and favouritism, Ford asked officials to approve repairs outside his family company’s offices before a party.

Ford has his charming qualities, but he’s not a good mayor. His personal life makes him sound like a (remarkably incompetent) supervillain, and his policies can’t even live up to his own standards. Get him out as quick as you can.

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