"It cannot get worse."
— most of Toronto
Have you not heard of Finagle's law, Toronto?
A brief recap
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's admission that, contrary to six months of public denials, he had used crack cocaine, was a stunner. It came shortly after the equally stunning revelation that the city's police had compiled evidence of his clandestine meetings with an associate, who has been arrested and charged with drug-related offences, and the chief of police's bombshell that a video rumoured to depict Ford in the act of smoking crack cocaine was not only real but in police possession.
If his admission was a stunner, his next step (to hold a press conference apologizing for his "mistakes" and insist that since he could not change the past, it was up to "the people of this great city" to decide whether he should stay on as mayor — in 2014) was breathtaking in its audacity.
Council's had enough
There is no mechanism in place to recall the mayor. One city councillor drafted a motion that would come as close to removing Ford from office without actually doing so, by stripping him of his right to fire councillors from the executive committee. Another put forth a series of motions that called on Ford to resign or take a leave of absence to get help, as well as to apologize for the people of Toronto for flat-out lying about the existence of the video and his drug use and to cooperate with the police. (Ford maintains that his lawyer has told him he should not speak with the police.)
The latter motions were debated and voted on first. One by one, councilors rose in the chamber to encourage Ford to take some time and get help for his own sake. He rebutted every single one, insisting that he is not an addict. He acknowledged that his drinking was sometimes out of control but that he had vowed to make the necessary changes in his life and that it was time for everyone to move on. One noted that after his much-publicized drunken tirade at the city's Air Canada Centre arena during a Toronto Maple Leafs game, Ford had issued an apology that very closely mirrored the apologies he was making now — right down to the pledge that this would "never, ever happen again."
Rob Ford stood up and said that this was true, as it had never happened again at the Air Canada Centre.
It's not an exaggeration to say that the council meeting descended into madness. At one point, after a blistering anti-Ford speech by former ally Denzil Minnan-Wong, councillor Doug Ford (the mayor's older brother) launched into a tirade that included "Don't pretend you're a Christian when you're really not."
Both Fords made cryptic references to other councillors also using drugs recreationally (Rob said he wasn't going to name names because he's "not a rat") and Rob Ford later presented a motion calling for mandatory drug testing for all councillors. He even said he'd pay for it.
Meanwhile, in a courthouse not far away, the judge who ruled that the documents that had been released just over a week earlier ruled that more documents could be released. This particular set contained the details of interviews the police had conducted with members of Ford's staff. Nothing in them has been proven in court.
Among the more salient allegations were claims (by the mayor's former chief of staff, no less) that Ford dispatched staffers to buy vodka for him so that he wouldn't have to be seen at liquor stores. Some staffers claimed he had consumed alcohol while (while) driving and that they feared for their safety. It was alleged that after the exodus of staffers in the wake of the initial crack allegations, Ford gave everyone who stayed a raise. There were allegations of cocaine use, and staffers suggested that they believed that a woman who appeared at the office with Ford during a raucous St. Patrick's Day may have been a prostitute. There were suggestions that Ford had called one of his staffers from his father's gravesite, drunk and crying.
And there was an allegation that Ford had made inexorably inappropriate sexual comments to a female staffer. (The woman in question told reporters after the documents were released that this did not happen. The documents also state that she became increasingly reluctant to be interviewed.)
The next day, Doug Ford said that the "mob mentality" against his brother reminded him of what happened to Jesus.
"I've got more than enough to eat at home"
Hours later, Rob Ford appeared outside his office and announced that he would be initiating legal action against his former staffers because the allegations were "100% lies." (Information given to the police is privileged; providing false information can lead to charges of obstruction, but it is generally thought that a libel lawsuit will not succeed.) And then he said this:
"It says that I wanted to
eat her pussy... I've never said that in my life to her. I
would never do that. I'm happily married — I've got more than enough to eat at
This was being carried on live television. A screengrab of a local news reporter's facial expression went viral.
People in this city are trading stories about where they were when they heard about this, like it was the Kennedy assassination. Ford had been wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey when this
went down happened. The team issued a statement distancing itself from him.
Hours later, Ford emerged from his office with his wife, hitherto unseen during this scandal, in tow. She stood behind him, stone faced, as he apologized for his "language" earlier on. He said he had been pushed over the edge and reiterated that he was going to pursue legal action against his former staffers. Then, hours after bringing his wife into the narrative, he told the press to leave his family alone. (He also denied that the woman his staffers had reported seeing him with on St. Patrick's Day was not a prostitute. "I've never had a prostitute here," he said. Semantics experts are going to have a field day with that one.)
Jon Stewart showed the "pussy" clip and then yelled "what?" repeatedly. And so it goes.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said it is up to Toronto to handle its own affairs — but that if city council indicated that it could not function, she would be willing to have the province give the city "tools" (probably recall legislation) to deal with Ford. On November 15, 2013, council began debating the motion that would strip Ford of some of his mayoral powers.
Rob Ford's oral sex comments draw ire of colleagues