Toronto’s Rob Ford keeps rolling

By David Kan Ting ,Special to The China Post

Toronto — Few mayors in Canada could put their cities on the map like Toronto Mayor Rob Ford did. In the past three weeks, the heavyweight (weighing 320 pounds) mayor of Canada’s largest city has grabbed no less world attention than Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi or New York’s Anthony Weiner, albeit for a different reason. Mayor Ford was involved in a crack-smoking scandal which had little to do with the kind of racy, titillating sex stories that brought down the former Italian prime minister and dashed the hopes of the once front-running candidate in New York’s mayoral race.

Ford, according to Jay Leno of NBC’s Tonight Show, is “God’s gift to comedy.” Saturday Night Live, NBC’s late night comedy, did a satirical skit on the burly and straight-talking mayor that turned out a hit. The New York Times, the Economist and the world’s major media all showed keen interest in the Ford saga, to the embarrassment and chagrin of 2.6 million Torontonians who felt their city, one of the world’s most livable metropolises, was humiliated and tainted by the mayor’s buffoonery.

Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack early this month under persisting and crushing media pressure and, most importantly, a statement from Toronto’s police chief that the police are in possession of a video clip showing evidence of Ford’s drug indulgence. The political bombshell shook the city and the Toronto City Council, which quickly urged Ford to step aside and “get help” from professionals. But the mayor dug in his heels, saying he has never been an addict, and he “probably tried it in one of my drunken stupors.” Then he apologized: “I am sorry, I know I have to regain your trust and confidence … I love this city and I love being your mayor to save taxpayers’ money.” Yes, Mayor Ford was a penny-pincher as far as public spending was concerned.

The council has no power to get rid of the mayor, who was elected three years ago when he ran as a protest candidate who claimed to represent the little people. He has been quite popular despite some of his quirky behavior. To save the taxpayer’s dollar, he drove to work every day, sometimes reading documents while driving. He vowed to continue to do what he was elected to do until the next election in 2014.