Rob Ford’s crack usage has made international news. It is currently the top story on Google News, all late night comedians have made a joke of it and it was one of the top stories on U.S. broadcasts last night. Check out this compilation of Canadian papers here. In Jamaica, it is not really big news, although the Gleaner published a wire story with picture.
Perhaps the lack of reaction is because Jamaica has enough of its own challenges when it comes to officials behaving badly. Politicians in Jamaica tend to get themselves into trouble for issues such as corruption and influence peddling, or severe inaction on important files. In fact, Jamaica is ranked 83rd out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Index.
As for Rob Ford, he yesterday admitted to smoking crack cocaine and having a problem with alcohol, although he stopped short of declaring himself an addict. He will not get treatment, despite a series of embarrassing and damaging incidents, associating with known criminals, and a string of staff who have quit because of his behaviour. It is now just a sad spectacle, an unhealthy individual in what appears to be the advanced stage of a severe addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. If this is indeed the case, his judgment is compromised and he is unfit for office, especially for Canada’s largest city whose 2013 budget was almost $11 billion! However, Ford is vowing not to step down, and there seems to be nothing yet to technically force him to do so. (Check out the wikipedia entry here, it has already been updated to reflect yesterday’s admission.)
I watched the scrum of dozens of reporters yesterday, waiting for Ford’s press conference at City Hall. I remember those scrums fondly: the excitement and anticipation, the attempt to successfully insert a question to a media-savvy politician, and then the let-down when they say little of substance and retreat to the safety of their office. Rob Ford’s relationship with media has been particularly antagonistic, almost coming to physical confrontations sometimes. In addition, he has made public his distaste for reporters, calling them “maggots,” among other things. This does not help the situation at all, of course, and he long ago seemed to stop trying to win them over. I can’t imagine what his PR people must be going through right now. Apparently, he let them know 15 minutes before the press conference that he was going to admit to smoking crack.
In any case, it will be fascinating to see how this plays out over the next few weeks. Apparently some councilors are drafting resolutions that could force Ford from office. No doubt this will upset “Ford nation,” a group of ardent Ford supporters who seem to maintain loyalty no matter what.
And give the Globe and Mail’s editorial calling for Ford to resign a read.