In the past 24 hours I’ve seen many people reveling in delight at possibility that Mayor Rod Ford did indeed smoke crack cocaine. This post from New York Magazine tries to explain to our American cousins/neighbours why no one should be surprised about these allegations. In another article they also point to his history of lying about things that are easily refutable.
As I was reading comment on Facebook and Twitter about this situation I was taken aback. I find it disgusting to see people I know respect, both friends and acquaintances, reveling in another person’s self destructive tendencies. I don’t think it’s funny, or something that should be cheered. I can’t help but see the world through the lens of a teacher and the problematic student. Granted a man of his age is not an adolescent even if he does display many of the same tendencies. I don’t hate Rob Ford, but I do dislike his actions and he should by all means be held accountable for them. The issue that too many seems to ignore is that Ford, from an outsider’s point of view, seems to display many symptoms of untreated mental health issues.
There have been many reports in the last year suggesting that Mr. Ford has a substance, or multiple substances, abuse problem for which it seems that he refuses to get help. That in itself is not shameful but rather unfortunate. The fact that he has enablers that allow him to go on without treatment is shameful. Granted, no one can force someone into treatment if they aren’t ready, but we must b able to tell one’s colleagues, peers, friends, and family the hard truths they need to hear. Most people suffering from substance abuse problems tend to be compensating for untreated mental health issues. My guess is that he may be manic or bipolar and untreated, which is unfortunate but does not excuse his behaviour or give him carte blanche to continue on as he has. He needs to take responsibility and seek out whatever the help that he needs.
We mustn’t forget that Ford is a public servant who holds high office, and who volunteers as a coach with local at risk youths. Both of these positions bear the burden of being those of role models in our society. One cannot accept the role without recognizing the responsibility, which is what Ford actions have continually demonstrated. For the latter he should be held to at least the same standards as a teacher. A teacher would lose their OCT license, and therefore their career, if they had done one of the many trespasses that Ford has. For instance: DUI (gone) , gay, racial and/or sexist slurs (gone), sexual assault (gone), domestic violence (gone), putting down youth at the school you volunteer at (gone), and doing illegal drugs (gone). I am most concerned at the claims that he got physical with a student he coached in the early 2000s. He should not be allowed to coach unless he demonstrates that he is being treated for his mental health and substance abuse issues . One must also consider the message he sends out to those who look up to him by not seeking out help. His inaction only serves to reinforce the prevailing stigmas related to mental heath diseases in Canadian society.
As an elected official he is suppose to represent his entire constituency. There is no place for the ‘other’ in one political discourse. Yet this is what Ford has propagateD in some of his most offensive gay, racial and sexist slurs during his career on council. As mayor he is the embodiment of Toronto to the outside world. When one is Mayor, Premier or PM one is representing the state and the people and should be held to a higher standard.
I take no joy in this, or any of the other, scandals that Rob Ford creates. As a human being I can’t help but feel for a man, with whom for the most part I thoroughly disagree politically, and wish that he will get help. I also hope that he’ll accept the full responsibility of his office and live up to it. If he finds that he cannot do so at this time, he should have the courage to either take an administrative leave to get professional help, or resign.