1. A drug dealer approached several Toronto newspapers with a video recorded on a cell phone which he claims shows Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. Asking price: $200,000.
2. Although no one buys the video, The Star publishes, as news, the existence of the video, even though they point out that they have not tested the veracity of the video.
3. Mayor Rob Ford claims the video is ridiculous.
4. The drug dealer, and the video, disappear.
There is a series of debates about the video: Is it Ford? Is this another example and perhaps explanation of his increasingly erratic behaviours? Or is it another attempt by the newspapers to force him out of office? Another interesting term has entered the debate: 'distraction'. There are those who are claiming the mayor's behaviour is causing such a distraction that council can no longer function, for this reason the mayor should step down.
My take: that council has not been functioning with these distractions may be true, it is also true that Toronto council does not and has never functioned. Take the Gardiner Expressway, for instance. For decades- decades! I say, and not one or two decades but four or five decades - council has argued over what to do about the Gardiner. Every decade or so they commission some independant group to write a report. The report is made a few years later, the council debates the report, does nothing, goes on to something else, then revives the debate again, brings out the old report, decides the situation has changed and a new report is necessary, commissions a new report, and so on, and so on, and so on ad infinitum. Similarly, council has been deadlocked in a perpetual crisis over garbage. Recently, council had a three hour debate over whether or not to have a Hero Burger stand in the City Hall Cafeteria. With a council this incompetent, I can say with assurance that Ford is a symptom, not the disease itself. Get rid of him, council would still be useless.
But there are those who say, guilty or not, Ford should resign to remove the distraction of himself. This is where it gets dicey for me, because I can't stand Ford. I think he should recognize the fact that he is a stupid incompetant mayor, and that he is simply not up to the task, and resign for that reason. The reason why I hate this situation is because, once again, I find myself defending Ford. I don't want Ford to resign from his position for the reason of distraction, not because of any virtue he has displayed, because he has not displayed any, but because of the damnable precedent this would set.
Think about it: for all the attacks levelled against Ford, he has not been convicted permanantly of anything. He is, at the time I write this, provably guilty of no wrongdoing. His behaviour is erratic and suspect, he is an embarassment, now an international embarassment, but that is not illegal. I feel like Thomas More arguing with his family about Richard Rich:
You want him gone? So do I. I believe he is a terrible mayor. But I also believe in democracy and the rule of law, and the first principle of our law code is that we are innocent until proven guilty. Forcing him out because of a series of ultimately unproven allegations is a cure far worse than the disease. It would set a precedent, and in the future anyone who wishes to derail the government more than usual need only start a series of unprovable and undefendable allegations to the point that the allegations become a 'distraction.' It would be yet another blow to democracy in Canada. We have had enough of those. Let's not take this step. Ford's term in office is up in a year. Let's get rid of him legally and democratically.