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.