If Rob Ford were the mayor of Vancouver...

Rob Ford's  public admission that he's smoked crack cocaine will no doubt lead to more finger wagging from the Toronto media.

These days when you practically need a master's degree to get a job at a daily newspaper, there aren't many former crack smokers working the city-hall beat.

The derision will be palpable. Any sense of forgiveness will be tossed aside because Ford's brand of selfish suburban politics are so objectionable to most downtown residents across the country.

The man from Etobicoke can expect to be mocked by late-night TV hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, and Jimmy Kimmel. It's the price he must pay for looking like a ridiculous oaf.

There's a class element at play. Ford is like a character out of Married With Children or Roseanne—utterly devoid of any Harvard University sheen like David Miller, who preceded him in the mayor's chair.

The Globe and Mail's scornful investigation of the Ford brothers a while back zeroed in on a bunch of hash-smoking losers in the suburbs. None would give their names, while freely admitting that they puffed weed with the Ford crowd.

But let's step back for a moment and ponder what might have transpired had Ford been the mayor of Vancouver.

My bet is there would have been a more even-handed approach from our local media.

Thanks to the work of people like Dr. Gabor Maté, the operators of Vancouver's supervised-injection site, and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, I suspect that there's a far more enlightened view of addiction in our city than in Toronto.

There's less judgement of those who smoke crack cocaine, regardless of their ideological disposition. Some health officials even talk about the value of safe-consumption rooms—a concept not on the radar screen in Toronto.

Does the fact that a politician smoked crack make him ineligible to serve? That wasn't true for those who supported Gary Robinson's unsuccessful bid to get back onto Surrey city council after battling his addiction problem. He wasn't ridiculed in our mainstream media during the last municipal election campaign.

The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, which is based in Vancouver, has done a stellar job in reducing the impact of the pandemic in our province by putting good public health ahead of self-righteous judgementalism.

In Vancouver, I suspect we would have seen some in the media question why Ford, a law-and-order politician, didn't have a more welcoming view of supervised-injection sites, in light of his own problems.

It's the 21st century, folks. Addiction is all around us. Call Ford a hypocrite for his stance on harm reduction. Object to his politics. Laugh at his follies, such as when he falls down on a football field or trips on a scale. 

But cut him a bit of slack when it comes to smoking crack after having a few too many drinks. One day, his kids might thank you for this—and it might help their generation develop attitudes that are a little more enlightened than those of their father.

Comments (47) Add New Comment
But it's not really about the crack, it's about the lying.

And being a fatass bike-hating SUV driver.
Rating: +84
Really?!! Are you Rob Ford's relative? What a load!!
Rating: +35
Charlie, I'm sorry, I couldn't disagree with you more.

If Vancouver had been amalgamated into a mega-city and a Rob Ford from Surrey was mayor, he would have received just the same treatment and derision. Your paper would have despised him and gone after him. There has been plenty of sympathy for his addiction problem - but not with his lying and destructive behaviour or god awful policies.

Just like the Toronto Sun stood by him, so would have The Vancouver Sun and Province have stood by this hypothetical Rob Ford. There is no equivalent to the Star in Vancouver. So, in fact, there would probably be less accountability over all.

To lessen what's going on by labeling it class war is ridiculous and - as I'm sure you know - the Fords are millionaires through inherited wealth.
Rating: +76
True. Vancouver has Councillors that have been hard drug addicts / alcoholics and there is little to nothing mentioned about them. Primarily based on their politics however. If they were conservative-leaning, it would be a media frenzy here as well.

And I say that just from observation, no malice or politics intended.
Rating: -27
Are you just trolling?
Unless you are just trolling your audience, this is a bunch of nonsense. Rob Ford put the office of the Mayor at risk of influence by criminals, due to his partaking in smoking crack. Admitting his indiscretions only happened when he had run out of alternative evasive techniques.

For you to say "I suspect that there's a far more enlightened view of addiction in our city than in Toronto" suggests that Rob Ford has an addiction problem. This is completely contrary to his ongoing position that he is not a drug addict. Further, to suggest the political support for safe use sites removes the desire for a level of mayoral integrity, above being a crack user and associating with criminals, is ridiculous at best.

"Any sense of forgiveness will be tossed aside because Ford's brand of selfish suburban politics are so objectionable to most downtown residents across the country." Or mabye people just don't like to be asked to believe lies.
Rating: +29
Vancouver Mayor
If Rob Ford was Vancouver's mayor we would coddle him, talk about how its not his fault and build a safe crack smoke site in city hall for him. We would also reduce the speed limits around city hall to 30km in order to have traffic slow down in case the mayor had a bad trip and decided to run naked in the streets. Basically we would totally enable the behaviour, and remove any accountability. Just like we treat all the other addicts.

Rating: -23
While politicians certainly shouldn't be breaking the law while in office, I have no problem with someone that has kicked their habit. The issue here is that he has repeatedly lied to the public. His conduct is the problem, not his past. Add to that the fact that he has a ridiculous (to most Vancouverites) "tough on crime" agenda that basically wants to throw all drug users in prison.

Sure, the Vancouver media wouldn't have hounded him about his past drug use (as much anyway), but the rest of it would still be a major issue.
Rating: +34
You were born in Etobicoke weren't you?
NO ONE is ridiculing Rob Ford for smoking crack, weed, hash or even having a few too many wobbly pops. The man is being ridiculed for being a liar, a windbag, a buffoon, a shyster and not having the sense that Mother Nature gave to pond scum to admit to his mistakes rather than blaming others. Instead of owning up to what he did, he and his stoogey brother set themselves to attacking every available target and building this glorious story of conspiracy against their "end the gravy train" agenda. You reap what you sow and Rob Ford is about to put all the manure farmers out of business.
Rating: +58
An embarrassment to any city
BIzarre article. Rob Ford's antics have been a constant sideshow and an embarrassment to Canada's largest city throughout his entire term, long before we found out about the crack, so it's far too late to cut him any slack. Remember he almost lost his job in a conflict-of-interest case? And he used to skip council meetings to go to high school football games? Not to mention the reports coming out now that during a St. Patrick's Day drunken stupor, he punched a government aide and threw his phone against a wall, while drinking at city hall.

So no, the problem people have with him isn't that he's from the suburbs. There are plenty of intelligent, competent people from the suburbs; the problem is that Rob Ford isn't one of them.
Rating: +43
Addiction, compulsive lying, confusion, defensiveness - it all fits together. Rob Ford symbolizes a person mired in deep self-loathing and hatred. Why? Maybe cavorting around with criminals and drug addicts made him make some pretty bad choices. Could have been taking bribes, doing favours for bad people, being controlled by crime organizations, we don't know - yet. His brother protects him, even with lies, because he loves him and knows him. Okay, so they all lied about something. Bottom line, get the guy to rehab, he's clearly crying for help.
Rating: +20
Comparing Rob Ford to Surrey's Gary Robinson is really sad.

Ford STILL hasn't confronted his addiction demon, even though the presence of the demon is obvious to a blind person. Robinson avoided the accusation for several years, and then did the right thing, like a man/person.

Ford's latest promise? 150 additional cops to deal with those dastardly drug dealers and users. Robinson's action? Three recovery houses for addicts. See the difference? See how acceptance of a substance problem can produce action (Robinson) or hollow political promises (Ford)?

Rob Ford is one of the most disgusting creatures I have ever seen in public life. To mention him in the same article as Gary Robinson is inexcusable. Shame on Charlie Smith - hack searching for an article.
Rating: +42
I think what I find most offensive is how Ford just keeps spoon-feeding everyone one lie after another and then has the audacity to say he wasn't lying when reporters had previously asked him about the infamous tape. His answer and justification to that was:

“So, I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions,”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Ford is a prime example of why politicians are always equated as bottom feeders. He just proves that 99% of them have no morals and will lie to anyone about anything IF they believe that they can get away with it.

Hopefully Ford will finally man up and do everyone in Canada a favour by stepping aside and removing his sorry ass from office.
Rating: +58
Ford's other problem is that he apparently takes political advice from drug dealers.
Rating: +41
Alan Layton
Charlie, would you be supporting Ford if he were from the upper 'classes' and had a degree from an elite university? Somehow I doubt it. The fact that you are bringing class in to makes feel like you put a lot of emphasis on someone's class.
Rating: +14
Claudia Ferris
Gary Robinson passed away this weekend otherwise he might have a comment about being compared to Rob Ford.
No comparison because Ford lied about the tape, lied about smoking crack and it is the blatant lying to get away with what you can that makes you an unfit leader.
Rating: +30
Arthur Vandelay
Charlie, were you smoking crack while writing this piece?
Rating: +25
Charlie Smith
Hi Claudia,

I wasn't comparing Gary Robinson to Rob Ford, though that's how people see it.

I bet if Gary Robinson had staged a comeback in Toronto, he would have been subjected to a much harsher ride from the media in that city.

That was the point. Obviously, judging from the comments, I probably didn't phrase things as well as I should have.

Now, watch everyone give me the thumbs down.

Charlie Smith
Rating: -16
Gee, Charlie.

You give our mainstream media too much credit. Would they have DARED to write anything about a Mayor Ford?

They certainly have a 'hands off' approach to the empty suit that sits in Council now...
Rating: -1
Lee L
I think, Charlie, you missed the mark here. There are many examples of politicians that have a 'chequered' past involving drugs who have served or are presently serving terms as elected officials. The local media, in general, pays scant attention as you point out, UNLESS the politician is seen as right wing. A perfect example is Gordon Campbell and his drinking/driving Hawaii vacation. There have been others. Nonetheless, the public does not know all the details of the lives of its public servants yet has a right to expect they would avoid intoxication to the point of being incapable of making a decent decision and would be able to live a life absent of criminal associates. I don't think Ford can do either, so for that he deserves the ride he is getting in T.O.
Trudeau, on the other hand, can admit to using an illegal substance and face a few questions but relatively little real heat.
Rating: -5
Richard Besserer
The real villain in this piece isn't Rob, who was by all accounts a model councilor who got in over his head.

The real brains in the family was Doug, who had less charisma but more ambition than Rob. Doug apparently planned to ride his brother's coattails all the way to the Ontario premier's office, and, presumably, throw his mixed-up brother under the bus when he'd outlived his usefulness (if he really did outlive it---any spree could be Rob's last).

As it is, it's clear Doug has been the real mayor for some time now. Heck, listen to the non-apology on Sunday---Doug cut him off the minute Rob threatened to go off message.

Notice how it's Doug ranting and raving about wanting Bill Blair's head on a dish, not Rob so much lately. Rob looks ready to pack it in, get help, and tell the police what he really knows. Left to his own devices he might have done so long ago. If he does that, Doug's career in provincial politics will end before it begins---even if he doesn't go to jail himself---and Doug knows it.

Doug's plan now is presumably to tell Rob what he wants to hear, keep the poor man thinking that Doug is his only friend in the world, do whatever has to be done to keep Rob in the mayor's chair, and keep enough of the base on side for long enough to get Rob re-elected. Rob needs help. His brother's career plans are incompatible with Rob getting it.
Rating: +24


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