November 26, 2013

Editorial: Toronto mayor needs to resign


---- — Toronto’s embattled mayor, Rob Ford, still won’t leave his post despite embarrassing missteps of his own creation since May, and the City Council can’t fire him.

And why he still has the backing of his most conservative supporters is anyone’s guess. He’s a disgrace to the 2.7 million people who call Toronto home.

How would you like to have a municipal executive who’s been caught on video smoking crack cocaine — his excuse is he was in a drunken stupor — and who bullies people who stand in his way? He has a long and well-known history of profane, intemperate outbursts. But recent behavior seems to have cracked his populist veneer.

He’s admitted to excessive drinking and buying illegal drugs yet says he’s not addicted and doesn’t need rehabilitation.

The Toronto City Council recently stripped Ford of many of his municipal responsibilities. Its members overwhelmingly voted to cut Ford’s office budget by 60 percent and allow mayoral staff to join the deputy mayor. Ford also has no legislative power, as he no longer chairs the Executive Committee.

He does retain his title and ability to represent the city at official functions, which is a shame. To rein in Ford even further would likely have resulted in legal challenges for the City Council.

The council doesn’t have the power to remove Ford from office, barring a criminal conviction, and its action was — unfortunately for Toronto residents —its strongest recourse.

Who would want this loose cannon representing your municipality in any capacity? Probably no one. And this guy wants to be prime minister? Ridiculous.

Ford was elected three years ago with support from Toronto’s conservative-leaning outer suburbs, where many voters felt angry about what they considered wasteful spending and elitist politics at City Hall. He campaigned on promises to stop the gravy train by curbing public spending and keeping taxes low.

According to The New York Times, Ford hails from Etobicoke, a suburb with a large working-class immigrant population in the western edge of Toronto, one of several small cities that became part of a large-scale Toronto under unification in 1998.

Etobicoke and some of the other suburbs haven’t seen the same explosive economic growth as the old city, where real estate, arts, money and cultural life have flourished. The old Toronto values, particularly discouraging the use of cars, clashed with those suburbanites.

With its proximity to Canada, the North Country has a “neighbor’s” interest in what happens in that country, so the Toronto mayor’s troubles have been watched here.

It’s too bad the City Council doesn’t have more power to remove a mayor who is staining the reputation of a city known for its beauty, cleanliness and serenity.

And someone who apparently can’t see that it is time to resign.