Should Politics Trump Everything?

Emerging from a 3 day battle with some godless microbe and 72 hours of highly potent neocitran-boozie concoction to kill it into submission, I’m scanning the #TOpoli with a mixture of disbelief and.. something else that is beyond my vocabulary at the moment. Like, I’m really groggy and quite possibly drifting in and out of consciousness, unable to fully judge if I’m asleep or awake.

Is this how the more casual observers of the municipal political scene here in Toronto feel when reading through the news? An out-of-body experience, this can’t really be happening kind of sensation? This is all a joke, right? This is not how a major metropolitan city conducts itself, is it?

On their regular Sunday afternoon radio slot, the mayor and his councillor brother brag about the restraint shown when the councillor was verbally accosted by a bike courier. “He (courier) was cursing and swearing with some nasty words,” Councillor Ford said. “I told him that if I wasn’t an elected official I would kick his ass.” He so would’ve too! He really would’ve! “The mayor said there would have been ‘one less courier to worry about’ if there was an incident. “Doug took kick-boxing for six years and has quick feet,” Mayor Ford said.

No, no, no, no, no. Our mayor did not just say that out loud, over the wireless, as some sort of populist bromide. My big brother’s tough as nails! Ford tough! You know how I know that’s all just a figment of my imagination? Later on in the show when talking about bullying in schools with a newly elected TDSB trustee, Councillor Ford claimed: “We never had bullies in our school. We’d always take care of them if there was.”

No semi-sentient adult being could be that self-unaware to not check themselves before blurting out such revelatory personality traits. I’d punch somebody for bad-mouthing me if there weren’t any repercussions. We didn’t have a bully problem because we ‘took care’ of anybody we thought were bullies…

It’s the virus in my bloodstream making me hear that, right? Some sort of auditory hallucination brought on by my mistakenly having mixed 151 proof rum with my cold medication. My mind’s just fucking with me at this point surely.

But then I wake up this morning to read that there’s a court motion afoot to oust Mayor Ford from office. Good god! Is the fever back? This can’t be—it’s Monday of March break. Nothing’s supposed to happen at City Hall. Will I never be free of this damned contagion that’s playing with my mind?!

For a full account of what’s allegedly happening, read Hamutal Dotan at the Torontoist and John McGrath at Open File TO but in short, way back in 2010, then Councillor Rob Ford used City Hall stationery to solicit donations including from some known lobbyists for his football charity. Integrity Commissioner ruled it a no-no, orders the councillor to pay back whatever donations he received. He claims he can’t because it’s already been spent on football equipment and the like. Integrity Commissioner then insists it has to come out of his pocket. In August 2010, city council agrees.

Some 18 months later and now mayor, Rob Ford still hadn’t complied with the ruling. At last month’s council meeting, a motion is presented and passed that overturns the previous council’s ruling, freeing the mayor of the obligation of paying back the $3150.00. Fine. Whatever. A little greasy but, hey, politics is never cut and dry.

Except today, in an application to the Ontario Superior Court, it’s alleged that the mayor violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. How? Not only did he vote on the item that waived his obligation to reimburse donors $3150 out of his own pocket but he spoke up in defence of his actions before doing so.

The mind boggles…And I don’t think it’s just the pharmaceuticals coursing through my brain.

I mean, last week I watched the mayor recuse himself from a debate and vote on something to do with the Boardwalk Café because he’s involved in some sort of litigation with the restaurant. But somehow this didn’t cross his mind as a possible conflict of interest? Someone on his staff? One of his political allies?

You’ve been ordered to repay $3150 out of your own pocket and it doesn’t strike you as a little iffy to be part of the debate and vote? There’s absolutely nothing that smacks of a conflict of interest about participating in and voting on an item that will save you personally $3150? Does that not seem simply incomprehensible to everyone else aside from just me and my medication?

I am equally as perplexed by the reaction to all this by some of the mayor’s most vocal critics. Whether, if found in violation, the mayor should be removed from office and barred 7 years from seeking office is a bit extreme, we can chat about but to shy away from this as politically bad optics or playing right into the hands of the persecution complex right wing politicians so love to wallow in, seems to be, well, a dereliction of duty frankly. (Hee, hee. Hee, hee. He said ‘doody’.)

Of course, the mayor and his supporters are going to run with this, citing it as proof the left wing is simply intent on driving the mayor from office and denying them their democratic rights, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Witch hunt! Dirty politics! Sore losers! That’s what they do. Conservatives gotta embrace victimhood.

But to shrug this off as bad politics or risky strategy? If this is pursued, it might play right into the hands of the mayor’s underdog status? That’s almost as cynical as how the right’s determined to play this.

To view this as some sort of ‘technicality’ is to accept questionable behaviour on the part of our elected officials as just part of doing business. Rob Ford repeatedly shrugged off requests to repay money the Integrity Commissioner ordered him to pay and then, as mayor, took part in the debate and vote to overturn the city councils move to uphold the Integrity Commissioner’s ruling. Something’s not quite right about that and ignoring it for fear of playing to his base come 2014 renders our democratic system somewhat ethically malleable.

Or am I missing something here, my logic and reasoning floating in a sea of medically enhanced fluid?

medicatedly submitted by Cityslikr

7 Responses to Should Politics Trump Everything?

  1. Greg says:

    I don’t see an issue with what was said. They came to the aid of people being bullied in school, that’s a very good thing in my books. What’s wrong with being honest about how he could have defended himself against the bully bike courier? He was being accousted, how was he in the wrong? All he said was how he could have defended himself.

    • Shaggy says:

      It’s all a matter of perspective. I know someone who went to high school with Rob and Doug Ford, and according to him there most definitely were bullies at the school and the surrounding neighbourhood. Their names were Rob and Doug Ford. They took out anyone else who could threaten their positions.

      It also didn’t sound like he was “defending” himself against a bike courier. “Defending” him the context he presented suggests the bike courier was being physical enough to deserve “kicking his ass.” Considering Doug’s selective memory (imagination) about events, we can’t be sure that he didn’t nearly cause harm to the courier in the first place. I know I yelled with rage at the guy who opened the door that I smacked in to.

    • OK, if you really need this explained…

      1. To be fair, Mr. Ford did not specify how they “took care” of bullies, but the implication that they did so forcefully is certainly there. Responding to bullying with more violence is not actually a solution.

      2. Here in the real world, we “defend” ourselves against verbal abuse by walking away. We don’t threaten the mouthy asshat with aggravated assault, and we certainly don’t boast about it on the radio.

  2. David says:

    This article sums up my thoughts. It really is inconceivable the there could be a mayor of a major city who acts this way. And yet, here we are. What really made me double-take yesterday, however, were Doug Ford’s statement on his encounter with the alleged bike courier. He is on radio telling us that if he could get away with it, he would go vigilante, Batman-style, on a bike-courier, for the crime of swearing at him. He would physically assault a man for calling him bad names. And he’s fucking proud of it! Who are these people???

  3. I am ever so sad to inform you that it isn’t the drugs. Today’s dance is absolutely real. But don’t lose sight of the fact that Clayton is just pole dancing for the media. He is doing a massive disservice to council but when was anyone able to control Mr. Ruby. Anymore than one can control young Dougie’s mouth.

    Still, in my mind, and I think I’m agreeing with you (those dang drugs), democracy requires rules and the Fords seem to be making a career out of flaunting rules and then screaming “No Fair” when they get caught. If he actually had the chutzpah to speak in his defence before he voted to save himself, as we know he did, I echo you. WTF!! Come on. This man needs to be reigned in. He can sure as hell afford 3150 bucks.

    Their Sunday performance this week would have been hilarious but for two things. There are a whole lot of people out there buying this shit. And speaking as one who was bullied plenty in school (the fat kid!), Dougie was exactly the sort I would hide in the washroom to keep away from. As for the courier story. I believe there was a verbal exchange. I believe the rest of the story is so much poppycock. Since when does a courier on a run take the time to follow someone down that long ramp, around the corner and then try to stop him from pushing some invisible button? Did he forget his pass card?

    Cold meds or not, good column as per usual. Although I have to say I don’t believe for one second that the combo of Neocitron and 151 rum was a mistake. Party on!

  4. giltay says:

    Exactly. There is a good possibility that this will be political inconvenient for Ford’s critics. So what? Aren’t we supposed to live in a society where abuse of power matters more than regular politics? Isn’t that that the society we want to live in?

  5. Sol says:

    In the best Matlovian tradition, I started out this morning trying to stake out a comfortable seat on both sides of the fence.

    Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could
    swear in both the scales against either scale, who
    committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could
    not equivocate to heaven.

    Is it the drugs? Who can say? I don’t judge. But between you, Ed, Corey and Nadia, you’ve convinced me. Team Ford’s going to squeal “victim” and “leftist witch hunt” no matter what we do. But as you say, the rules are there for a reason, and it’s not open to him or ANY mayor to just blow them off whenever they make things inconvenient.

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