Dear Mayor Ford: Like it or not, you have a drug problem.
I’m not referring to your alleged issues with alcohol, or your DUI in Florida all those years ago. I’m not talking about the time you were arrested for possession of marijuana, or even the video that’s said to depict you smoking crack cocaine. I’m not talking about the claims that you were inebriated at a Garrison Ball, or your brother Doug’s alleged running of a hash ring during the 1980s. I’m not even talking about the long list of incidents involving your family members where drugs were connected to other criminal activity.
Your drug problem is the fact that nobody believes you.
What other mayor could ever be accused of smoking crack cocaine, and have their constituents pause, and say, “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense”? Who else could have such allegations thrown towards them without the public laughing and saying, “There’s no chance that it’s true”? What other publicly-elected official could so easily be connected to drug allegations, and have the public believe those claims so readily?
Whatever your feelings were about David Miller or Mel Lastman, that’s a problem that neither of them ever had to face. For all their other foibles and flaws, neither of them could have been so easily linked to an accusation of this magnitude. Yet, despite the overwhelming amount of pressure being put on your office by these allegations, you pretend you’re able to maintain an even keel throughout the scandal, and think that you can act like it’s simply business as usual.
Yes, Mayor Ford, you do have a drug problem – and the longer you remain in denial about it, the harder it will be for you to regain the public trust. While your immediate response might be to attack anyone and everyone who makes such claims, you can’t simply keep your head in the sand about this. Even your allies think the scandal is affecting City Hall, and want it over and done with – and you didn’t address it directly until members of your Executive Committee wrote you a public letter imploring you to do so. Unless you admit you have a problem and start taking steps to deal with it, members of Toronto’s city council will continue to think you’re lying, and will not consider the story over and done with.
Your problem, like that of so many other addicts, is that you continue to remain in denial about how deep your problem goes. You think that Torontonians are fools, and can’t tell the difference between “I do not use crack cocaine” and “I have never used crack cocaine.” You think we don’t recognize the distinction when you say you can’t comment on a video which you “have never seen, OR does not exist”. You want us to believe that a lawyer told you not to say a word about the video over the past week, even though I asked my own lawyer whether she’d ever give a client such advice – her response, coupled with a chortle of laughter was, “Only if the allegations were 100% true.” (She also told me she’d tell her client to sue the living daylights out of anyone who made the claims, but that’s another issue altogether).
With 13 hours to go, Gawker’s “Crackstarter” fund is less than $7,000 from its $200,000 goal (edit: the fundraiser successfully passed the $200,000 mark at 3:54pm on May 27), even though the creators of the fund admit they haven’t been in contact with the owners of the video for over a week. That’s how strongly people believe that the video is 100% accurate. People think so poorly of you that many Torontonians believe – as I wrote last week – that you probably just went and bought the video yourself. In fact, some people believe that you might have been involved in something even worse, as reports come down that members of the Homicide branch of Toronto Police Services interviewed a member of your office about a recent murder that might be connected to that same video.
Now, that’s a problem.
Your drug problem, Mayor Ford, is so serious that it’s largely costing you the public trust, what little you had left, anyways. Your chief of staff has been dismissed, and your press secretary and his assistant have quit. Even if polls somehow suggest your support remains steady, will these people actually show up to support you at the ballot box in 2014? Your claims that it’s all a Toronto Star conspiracy are no longer holding up to scrutiny, as other media outlets are also starting to hold you to account. You can’t just go on your weekly radio show, where you are insulated from hearing the city’s real attitudes towards you, and call members of the media “maggots” for doing their jobs.
It’s true that admitting you have a problem is the first, and hardest, step towards solving it. But as long as people like your brother Doug continue to enable you, and until you take some responsibility for the mess you’ve put yourself in, this problem will continue to plague you for as long as you remain in the public eye.
It’s time to get help, Mr. Mayor – only you can fix this problem before it gets worse.