Rare is the day when a Canadian political scandal makes international news. In fact, never is the day when a Canadian political scandal makes international news. Rob Ford is a pioneer!
Mr. Ford is of course the Tea Party-style populist mayor of Toronto, who’s also the biggest tabloid star in the world right now thanks to Gawker’s recent (alleged) discovery of a video of him smoking crack cocaine. The film, which has also been viewed by two journalists from the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest-circulation daily, is currently in the hands of a couple of inner-city Somali-Canadian drug dealers, who Gawker editor John Cook has been trying to pay off for the last week or so. His “crackstarter” pledge drive recently passed the druggies’ $200,000 ask, but alas, Cook seems to have lost contact with them. C’mon guys, don’t be like this, I’m ready to make a deal, says Cook.
Obviously a lot of light-hearted merriment has been had at the embattled mayor’s expense over all of this, in part because Ford is a strange-looking, eccentric buffoon who’s easy to point and laugh at (especially when giving sweaty, strangely-worded non-denial denial press conferences), and in part because there’s always been a considerable portion of the Toronto politico-media establishment that’s loathed the guy for his right-wing politics and prayed for his downfall.
Yet the fundamentals of this story are hardly a laughing matter. The mayor of Canada’s largest city may very well be an addict of one of the most vicious and destabilizing hard drugs available. His addiction may be helping finance murders, both here and abroad. It’s been suggested that one of Ford’s underworld associates was Anthony Smith, who was recently murdered in a gang shooting, and although details on this story are hazy and contradictory, apparently the Toronto Police are currently seeking the crack video as part of some manner of possible homicide investigation. This is the dirty world substance abuse takes you.
Mayor Ford has very obviously lost his moral authority to govern, and with staffers ditching ship left and right, he may soon lose his literal ability to govern, too. It’s a monstrous, slow-motion car crash. But we should be very clear that the whole thing is a tragedy, not a farce.
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