Destroying Rob Ford
Ever since Rob Ford took office as Toronto's new mayor in December of 2010, local and national media have been relentless in their attempts to destroy him. The Globe & Mail was one of the first to imply that Ford had broken election rules by paying campaign expenses with funds from Doug Ford Holdings, a family company. The Globe also attempted to raise questions about the amount of money spent by the Ford campaign and whether most of it was legal and within election law. The Ford campaign spent approximately 1.7 million dollars, while the Smitherman campaign had spent over 2 million, creating little to no similar reactions from media. Later that year, leftist activist, Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, filed a complaint about Ford's campaign spending to the Toronto Compliance Audit Committee. Ford's campaign was then audited and it was declared that he had over spent by 40,000 dollars. The audit committee did not decide to proceed with prosecution and Ford attributed the overspending to miscalculation.
During the 2010 campaign, the Toronto Star attempted to galvanize Ford's tainted history and his refusal of a breathalizer test during a possible drinking and driving incident in Florida, over a decade earlier, in which he was charged with possessing marijuana. However, the attempt by the Star to slow Ford's momentum failed.
Rob Ford's successful election with an 11% spread over his opponents was historic, but highly contentious and mired with controversy. Most of this controversy seemed to be created by leftist activists, city councilors who had long been opponents, and local media; particularly the Toronto Star. Ford's troubles weren't about to stop just because he had finally won the election. After his election, Ford turned down the publicly funded transportation offered to mayors and city councilors and opted to drive himself around the city for business, at his own expense. This led to several incidents that the Star and Globe were quick to publicize, including an incident of road rage involving a streetcar operator and some foul language. In another story published in the Star, Ford was photographed reading while he was driving. These publications led to an alleged "public outcry" (according to media) for Ford to hire a driver. Ford continued to refuse.
Since his election, Ford has been at the centre of a media driven spectacle, one of which eventually led to him being temporarily thrown out of office by a judge on conflict of interest charges -- the same type of charges that have faced other politicians and leaders, but without the same consequence.
The Globe has periodically engaged in slanderous and unverifiable stories about Ford, including his brother. In a more recent story, the Globe alleged that Doug Ford sold hash over three decades ago, citing only interviews with shady sources who knew or "knew of" Doug Ford selling hash in the 80s.
His past behaviour, including a security escort out of a Maple Leafs game for being belligerent, has made any and all allegations against him more believable, but not necessarily true. Ford's personality can be described as detestable and loathsome. It has stirred strong emotions in his opponents; so strong that some of them have undoubtedly suffered from momentary rage and hatred.
It has become evident that there is a long standing and negative relationship between Rob Ford and the editorial staff of the Toronto Star. Very few politicians, specifically those who subscribe to progessive politics, have ever been so strongly scrutinized by the Star. Olivia Chow has never been in the crosshairs of the newspaper's editors. Not even when she broke the rules of her position at the Toronto Police Services Board by chanting "Revolution breeds confrontation" after a bloody riot outside the Ontario Legislature in 2000. Chow openly condemned the police and defended violent rioters wielding Molotov cocktails. She was forced to resign her position after breaking the cardinal rule that prohibits that sort of political expression and involvement.
The Star's treatment of Rob Ford and the paper's attempts to smear the mayor are similar to the tactics used by Sun News when it galvanized a story about Jack Layton being caught by Toronto police in a sexually oriented, illegal massage parlor nearly twenty years earlier. Sun News was accused of attempting to smear Layton during an election by revealing old, irrelevant news from his past. The Star's Kate Allen questioned the source of the leak and the retired officer responsible for revealing the news to Sun Media. Ironically, the Star has consistently used the same tactics as Sun News in its attempts to end Rob Ford's mayoral career.
A yet unseen video which allegedly features Ford smoking crack was privately shown to two Toronto Star staffers by John Cook and a gang of Somali drug dealers. Gawker has offered to buy the video after raising over 200,000 dollars. The video of the mayor smoking crack has yet to be seen by anyone other than the Star's staff and Cook, but it has raised enough controversy for an already embattled mayor to cause a mass exodus of his staffers. The same drug dealers also supplied Gawker with a photo of Ford alongside a murder victim who was gunned down on March 28th. The photo itself fails to reveal much.
Whether Gawker will follow through and put 200,000 dollars into the hands of criminals just to purchase the tape remains to be seen.
Of all previous Ford scandals, this one is the most serious. If not for the alleged drug abuse, then for Ford's connection to a man who was recently gunned down, likely by drug dealers and gang members. Very few people would be able to argue in defence of Rob Ford if such a video emerges for public viewing, or if he is indeed found to be connected to the murder victim by more than mere coincidence. However, due to the behaviour of the Star's editorial staff and its apparent ill will toward Rob Ford, any such news should be approached with caution, especially when no verifiable evidence of any wrong-doing has even emerged. The hundreds of protesters who continue to gather outside city hall don't seem willing to see past their own hatred to accept the doctrine of innocent until proven guilty. Until the public sees a video, this recent "crack video scandal" is nothing more than hearsay.
Below is a rundown of the Toronto Star's relentless attempts to harm Rob Ford, giving us enough reason to welcome this new allegation with skepticism. It appears that this scandal, if it continues to go unsubstantiated, will be the lowest of the low attempts by the Star to impale Rob Ford.
Click the links to be directed to the original Toronto Star pages.
-Toronto Star hypes a leaked phone conversation in which Rob Ford obviously jokes about agreeing to find an HIV positive drug user some Oxycontin.
-Toronto Star galvanizes Rob Ford's drug charges in Florida. Although the story wasn't originally broken by the Star, its editorial staff was eager to post weeks worth of editorials and articles criticizing the mayoral candidate and implying that his drug charges were surely going to affect his bid for mayor.
-Toronto Star takes its feud with Ford to the integrity commissioner in December of 2011, after Ford refuses to speak with any of the paper's reporters.
-Toronto Star pushes a TTC bus incident by citing unverified allegations that Ford wanted bus services diverted for his football team and that he called TTC executive Andy Byford. Most of the Star's information comes from supposed voicemail messages that were deleted and a telephone transcript that was admittedly too "garbled" to be transcribed.
-Toronto Star criticizes Ford for skipping the city's annual gay pride parade, hinting that the mayor may be homophobic while publishing verbal taunts and mockery from parade participants.
-Toronto Star tries to make Ford's attempted purchase of land near his home look suspicious and weird.
-Toronto Star indulges by publishing a famous late night comedian's mockery of Rob Ford.
-Toronto Star accuses Ford of bullying following an Ombudsman report that criticized Ford's office and led to criticism against the Ombudsman by Ford.
-Toronto Star ridicules Ford for missing his weight loss goals and twisting his ankle after falling off the scale.
-Toronto Star again accuses Ford of breaking the city's code of conduct by asking for donations to his football foundation while in office.
-Toronto Star blows another innocent Ford comment out of proportion and tries to accuse the mayor of sexism by writing an entire article about it.
-Toronto Star implies that Ford used his position to have roads and drains repaired outside a family business, leading to more controversy and councilor Adam Vaughan accusing Ford of using his authority to gain preferential treatment. Again, the paper refuses to cite any verifiable evidence other than hearsay.
-Toronto Star criticizes Ford for missing a committee meeting to coach football instead, but fails to mention that many councilors and past mayors have skipped committee meetings in the past for less important obligations.
-Following a mass resignation after the "crack video scandal", Toronto Star immediately puts the focus on Rob Ford's latest new hire, implying yet more favouritism and wrong-doing surrounding the replacement.
Papers like the Toronto Star and Globe & Mail seem to be acting out of desperation in their attempts to end Ford's career. Evidence for this is clear by their eagerness to support a 200,000 dollar transaction that would put significant money into the hands of terrorists and their eagerness to publish stories without any evidence beyond hearsay.
Questions that the public should be asking are: how far did Gawker and Toronto Star staff go to get in contact with the criminals who are offering this video footage?
Why has it been so difficult for others to track down these criminals? Is it ethical to pay gangsters such a sum of money just to destroy a political career?