Last week’s special meeting of Toronto city council featured a multi-part motion aimed (inadequately, in my view) at censuring Mayor Rob Ford for his now-notorious conduct.
The condemnation of the mayor during the debate was universal. And rightly so.
On one portion of the motion I voted in the minority. I have been asked by the editors of this paper to explain myself. Here goes:
Reports over the past year concerning the mayor have disclosed a disturbing pattern: Allegation of outrageous behavior; denial and counterattack; proof of original allegation; admission of guilt; theatrical but unconvincing apology; self-forgiveness; and admonishment to all of us to move on and focus on the future.
I have said throughout that I find the mayor’s conduct disgraceful and outrageous. I have called it an embarrassing sideshow. But I have also said it has not gotten in the way of the work of the city or the work of council.
I have said that the mayor has demonstrated himself to be unfit for office. I have said that he would do all of us a favour if he simply packed his bags and left.
But I have not joined the chorus of voices calling on the province to intervene. And I have not been one to seek out the nearest
TV camera and offer the sanctimonious “recommendation” that the mayor “take a leave of absence” and “seek help”.
At the opening of last week’s session I went on record saying I want the mayor gone. Pure and simple. I stood up in answer
to the calling of my name and went clearly on record on the matter.
Later in the day we came to the motion that I mention above.
The motion urged the mayor to take a “temporary” leave of absence to address his “personal issues”, and then “return” to the
office of mayor and “to lead the city”.
I could not support any of that.
My outrage over the mayor’s conduct goes well beyond his “personal issues”. I frankly don’t want him to continue as mayor whether he sobers up or not.
My reasons are based essentially on two entirely distinct points, neither of which is satisfied by the motion that I voted against:
The issue in question is not just a matter of some sort of amateur’s long distance diagnosis of substance abuse. It is a matter of the litany of bad behaviour and the disturbing and consistent pattern of disgraceful conduct that is unworthy of a civilized grown-up, let alone a mayor;
On legal advice, the mayor has refused to cooperate in a police investigation. That is every citizen’s right; but it is entirely incompatible with the holding of public office.
Voting for a motion that invited the mayor to dry out and come back to work — in a leadership role, no less — would have undercut my message of earlier in the day.
My message? It was first delivered quite satisfactorily some years ago by Oliver Cromwell: You are no mayor. You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!