Saturday, November 2, 2013
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's popularity rises in face of crack video scandal
Mayor Rob Ford is in a corner and the jackals are swirling.
But he’s not dead yet and appears to be prepared to fight on.
A new Forum Research poll shows the mayor’s approval rating post Chief Bill Blair’s confirmation of an alleged crack video gained five points from 39% to 44%.
Not so fast, those sizing up the mayor’s potentially vacant chief magistrate’s chair.
Who knows what next week’s phone call intercept revelations will show or how high an approval rating Ford will go as a result?
Few are changing the channel on this drama.
Ford is down but still holds some cards — the biggest being he is still the mayor with a mandate for one more year.
You can’t fire an elected mayor.
Not because his supporters or enemies on council believe he should be. Not because those behind a political-assassination-script are rolling it out on queue. Not because newspapers have called for his resignation.
And certainly not because the chief is “disappointed and concerned.”
Even if police end up charging Ford, they still can’t sack him.
Only the voters can.
Ford could choose to fire himself by resigning.
It doesn’t look like he will take this advice he has been receiving from so many.
“The job is his life and he loves it,” his lawyer Dennis Morris said Friday. “I don’t see him giving it up.”
But who really knows where this runaway train will stop.
Maybe not even embattled Ford himself.
Perhaps it will become clearer in Sunday’s much anticipated The City radio show on Newstalk 1010. The show may be make-it-or-break-it time for the mayor, who has used up eight of his nine political cat lives.
He owes Toronto an explanation for all that has been exposed that appears to capture loutish and bizarre behaviour.
Perhaps he will ask for the cost of spying on him for five months and if the police had anything else they could have been doing. Maybe he will ask why an outside police service was not called in for fear of the conflict of interest this action would cause between the chief and mayor at police budget time.
Mostly he should just talk to Toronto and tell the truth.
However Ford decides to proceed, the talk show is the best place to attempt to explain himself, apologize, announce his intentions, push back, or — if he chooses — resign.
It might be time for a little contrition, humility and some assurance to the public that he has two hands on the steering wheel and plans to keep them there.
But who knows with the mayor right now? How he navigates forward is anybody’s guess.
He seems to have a “Rob Ford against the world” approach. His world crashed down this week — much of it self-inflicted.
However, while it’s clear his behaviour has appeared delinquent and brutish, it does not mean everyone else’s need to be.
This is a feeding frenzy, the knives are out and there is blood in the water. Opponents mustering in a lynch-mob pack approach can smell the kill and just about everybody else is running away from the potential carnage to attempt to make sure none of blood splatter lands on them.
But this is a human being, a husband and father who may need compassion, medical assistance, love or even intervention. Maybe he needs a kick in the butt. He is certainly entitled to due process and presumption of innocence like everyone else.
Deserved or not, the irony of the collective attempting to push Ford over the political cliff is the more they pile on, the more he has no choice other than to fight back.
He was elected to do the job no matter how many critics don’t feel he is worthy.
The bottom line, no matter how much poor judgment he has shown around his many talents and achievements, democracy states a mayor can’t be removed just because there is a chanting choir desiring it.
The new poll may not get the same kind of headlines but the opponents will take note.
As Sun Tzu said “if you surround the enemy, leave an outlet” because such a back-to-the-wall warrior has nothing to lose.
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