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Rob Ford: Greatest Show on Earth Not So Entertaining Anymore

By: Andrew Woodbury - @A_W10 - Dec 23, 2013, 9:47 am
Ford pictured dancing at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday
Ford pictured dancing at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday. Source: Sun News.

Two more apologies, a heated exchange with a councilor, an impromptu dance session on the Toronto city council floor, and a personal visit from Santa Claus: just another day in the spectacle that has become Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

These recent events all occurred last Tuesday when Toronto’s city council met to discuss water rates and rules with, somewhat ironically, the integrity commissioner. However, like most days in the past nine months, all eyes — and recording devices — were on Ford.

With his mayoral powers reduced to essentially nothing more than symbolic, after his admissions of crack and alcohol use, it appears all Ford has left to do is apologize — something he’s becoming proficient at, even if lacking sincerity. The most recent apologies were targeted toward fellow councilors, after calling them “corrupt” the previous day, as well as to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, who had launched a libel suit against Ford for implying that Dale was a pedophile in a television interview in 2012.

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale. Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale. Source: Toronto Star.

Dale rejected Ford’s “super sarcastic” apology on Tuesday, where Ford refused to say “I apologize” — instead facetiously stating that an “I’m super, super, super sorry” should suffice. At that point Dale refused to drop the lawsuit, but would later do so after Ford issued a formal, written apology. The disingenuous apology to Dale in front of Toronto’s city council prompted councilor Shelley Carol to state that Ford is “an expert at non-apologies.”

Halfhearted apologies aside, when someone is issuing them with such a high volume as Ford has been doing lately, sincerity is bound to be lost.

Poking fun at that point, Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail posted a video yesterday entitled “22 Rob Ford apologies in 90 seconds.” While admittedly humorous, the video underlines what Ford has inevitably become: a distraction.

Never a politically correct person, Ford has always spoken his mind. But since his admission of crack-cocaine use at the beginning of November — finally owning up to accusations he had been denying since May of this year — his frequent borderline comments that were previously likeable to most became not so. So comedic has Toronto city hall become that the drug admissions have blended in with everything else.

In addition to apologies for crude comments to city councillors and the pedophile remarks toward Dale, other highly publicized reasons for Ford’s numerous apologies include: public drunkenness, buying illegal drugs while in office, bowling over a councilwoman at city hall, and lewd sexual comments made to Toronto reporters about his own wife.

Immediately after admitting to buying and using illegal drugs, one could argue that Ford had made mistakes, but also that the city could move on. What Ford has done in the aftermath has turned even that progressive thought on its head. With distractions piling up, and their accompanying apologies soon thereafter, Ford, in his stubbornness to step aside, has committed his worst act of all: making the city of Toronto less functional than it should be.

Initially it was interesting, maybe even entertaining. But with incidents still piling up, there must be a line. Tuesday’s antics did not go unnoticed and Pam McConell, the city councilor whom Ford infamously ran over earlier this month, made the obvious point that the world now isn’t just focusing on Ford but on Toronto’s increasing dysfunctionality.

“The whole world is looking at us and now being able to show Toronto city council boogieing around instead of doing business. It feeds into that late-night show comedy,” McConell said. “They are making a joke of this democracy.”

I’m sure Ford is sorry for that too.

Andrew Woodbury Andrew Woodbury

From Toronto, Canada, Woodbury is a Young Voices advocate, editor, and educator at the International Language Academy of Canada. Follow him @A_W10, and read more of his featured PanAm Post column, “Connecting the Dots.”