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May 24 2013

What happened to Toronto?

Canada does not have the reputation that the US has for breeding crazy politicians. So it came as something of a surprise that the people of Toronto, the largest city in that country, elected as their mayor in 2010 Rob Ford who seems to be almost a caricature of a scandal-plagued politician, embroiled in one embarrassing episode after another, sometimes involving alcohol and drugs, at other times racial and sexual insensitivity. Here is an article chronicling his past weird behavior.

But the latest episode tops them all. It concerns a video that was shown to some reporters that purportedly show him smoking crack cocaine with drug dealers. The owners of the video are asking $200,000 for it and the website Gawker is crowd-funding it and has so far raised nearly $160,000, though there may also be some legal hurdles to be overcome. Ford initially denied everything but has since refused to comment. In addition, he has fired his chief of staff and had him escorted out of city hall by security guards, allegedly for advising the mayor to “go away and get help”.

The Daily Show shares my bewilderment at this seemingly anomalous Canadian public figure.

(These clips appeared on May 21, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Rob Grigjanis

    Ford’s victory was an old story; a vote split between more left-leaning candidates, a reaction against the status quo (municipal and provincial), and the appeal of a populist blowhard. Canadians are no more immune to nonsense than Americans.

    Luckily, our laws still give us some protection from the corporatocracy which is firmly entrenched in the USA. For now. I’d choose Ford over Rahm Emanuel any day, if only because Ford has few friends in high places.

  2. 2
    Argle Bargle

    The crack-smoking, blowjob giving Canadians was a bit over the top.

    Incidentally, Firefox spellchecker recognizes blowjob as a word.

  3. 3
    slc1

    Shades of former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Berry who, when arrested by the FBI at a motel, where he was “entertaining” a woman not his wife, and merrily snorting nose candy proclaimed, “bitch set me up”.

  4. 4
    richardrobinson

    The Rob Ford Show is some of the best entertainment tax dollars can buy!

  5. 5
    maudell

    Rob Ford is definitely an oddity in Canadian politics.

    The Canadian centre-left is divided. This is mostly evident with the Conservatives (originally two separate parties), who won a majority due to the spread out vote and the archaic FPTP voting system (FPTP is less problematic in a two party system like the US, since division of the voting demographics is less likely).

    This story is weird, but we need to look into these thugs running our cities. Quebec is starting to investigate the mob infiltrations into politics. The mayor of Laval, the third largest city in the province, is being criminally accused of leading the mob operations in his city.

    Personally, I think that smoking crack should not be grounds for a resignation. But smoking crack *and* supporting the drug war is. I’m sick of these hypocrites supporting prison time for the lower classes only. Sick of Obama joking about smoking weed in college.

    They don’t even act like they have a coherent argument anymore.

  6. 6
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    He’s such a buffoon.

    Okay. The thing is, surrounding the urban centre of Toronto, there’s a big semicircular doughnut of mixed suburb/rural area that is fairly conservative by comparison. They buy into the whole government=waste and taxes-are-bad mantra of the right. Ford promised to cut “the gravy” out of the municipal budget and cut the property transfer tax (neither of which he’s done, btw, because there wasn’t any significant amount of the first, and not enough revenue to do the second). The moderate/left vote was split so Ford was able to win enough votes on that platform.

    Since that article is a year old, I’d imagine that it doesn’t cover the fact that this year he was in court twice since then–once for conflict of interest (for which he was actually thrown out as mayor, but won an appeal of that decision), once for defamation (dismissed). There’s also a forensic audit of his campaign finances going on. I feel sorry for Torontonians and am vicariously embarrassed even though he’s not my mayor and I didn’t vote for him.

  7. 7
    Félix Desrochers-Guérin

    Clarification: Former Mayor Vaillancourt is being charged with gansterism because he and his cronies are alleged to form something that fits the definition of ““criminal organisation”, not because of any connection to the actual mob (at least as far as I know).

  8. 8
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Okay. The thing is, surrounding the urban centre of Toronto, there’s a big semicircular doughnut of mixed suburb/rural area that is fairly conservative by comparison. They buy into the whole government=waste and taxes-are-bad mantra of the right.

    The other thing is, this wasn’t the case until Mike Harris’ awful “Progressive” (ha!) Conservative government of the 90s forced through a merger of Toronto with said outlying suburban municipalities that the residents for the most part didn’t even want.

  9. 9
    sailor1031

    Well there’s one good thing to come out of it all – Mark Towhey is out on his ass!!

  10. 10
    gilgamesh

    I did at one point think Mel Lastman was the most embarrassing Mayor we ever had. I was wrong, so very, very wrong. So wrong.

  11. 11
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    The Charbonneau Commission actually investigates a system of collusion between politicians, government engineers, private engineering firms and private entrepreneurs in the attribution of public infrastructure contracts, and how this system illegally finances political parties as well as the lavish lifestyle of some politicians and high functionaries.

    It is broadcast live most of the time, and is often quite entertaining. A few of the witnesses were members or related to members of the mob.

    Mayor Vaillancourt’s system was so widespread that it meets the requirements for our gangsterism law. There are over 30 accused, including the mayor, city engineers, at least one lawyer. Being tried for gangterism means they’ll be tried together as a criminal organisation.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Mano Singham

    The family looks like a reality show in the making.

  14. 14
    Félix Desrochers-Guérin

    Like “The Osbournes”, except even trashier.

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