Toronto: Beware of cameras, lest you end up like Mayor Rob Ford
“Kursee kabhee na chorna, (don’t ever leave the seat)” is something we say to our politicians in Pakistan all the time. That is the same thing I wish I could say to Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford, if I ever get an opportunity to meet him.
Talking about meeting him, I did meet him once this summer in a desi food street festival in Toronto. It was in a Pakistani restaurant called ‘Lahore Tikka House’ in Gerrard Street and he was invited to honour the South Asian festival by his presence. We shook hands and with his permission also took a few photos. But this was all before his behavioural issues flooded news headlines.
On November 5, 2013, news of the Toronto mayor’s drug confession took the media world by storm. Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine in one of his ‘drunken stupors’ after a video of him doing drugs was leaked into the media. He further on admits to hiding his drug abuse problem from his family, his staff and the people of Toronto. Several members of the City Council as well as the editorial boards of some local newspapers have called for him to step down but Ford pledges to continue on as mayor.
Mayor Rob Ford has been in the business of politics since he started as a City Councillor in the early 2000s. When he took over as the Mayor of Toronto in 2010, his enthusiastic speeches in the city council sessions, his rhetoric and body language, became a matter of disdain and were dreaded by some of his colleagues in the council. For the general public, he was a buddy-like mayor and he enjoyed their company, support and approval.
It all started in May 2013, when an American website and a local Canadian newspaper reported that they had viewed a cell-phone video that appeared to show Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine and commenting on political issues. The website raised money to buy the video but was unable to acquire it as the seller suddenly went underground. Curiosity and rumours about the video warmed up workplace lunchroom chit chats and dinner time discussions at home.
Unfortunately, before anyone could verify this and see the video on the internet, it was taken off by the person who had initially posted it.
In October 2013, the police announced that they are in possession of this scandalous video and in the course of an investigation of drug gangs, entitled “Project Traveller”. Ford was kept under police surveillance for a couple of months since the video incident took place.
“Rob Ford has put Canada on the map. I love this man.”
This wasn’t me saying that, it was actually a comment left by a friend on my Facebook.
Like an alert and involved Canadian, I too was hyper with posting updates and all the latest on Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on my Facebook wall and Twitter feed. Venting is good they say and we have different ways to do it now.
Many feel that this has embarrassed them as Canadians and made Canada the talk of the international world. Those who have kept up with this specific news in Pakistan would know what I’m talking about. For those who have missed out on this, you might want to read up on it. I can guarantee that it’ll be quite entertaining and refreshing to see other politicians under the spot light for once.
Whilst talking to a Pakistani-Canadian journalist here in Mississauga, Saima Hussain, I asked her for her opinion on the mayor’s refusal to step down. She said,
“Politicians are the same everywhere. They don’t want to let go of power, whether it’s here in Canada or in Pakistan.”
The fact is that the Rob Ford’s story or a strategy, as thought of otherwise, has brought him to celebrity status overnight when international media reported him as top news. He became the talk of the town and fodder for daily late night comedy shows in the US when Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallen, all caricatured him with his look-a-likes in their shows, taking their show ratings to new heights.
While it is being laughed off and taken lightly by some, the truth is that the issue still lurks as a grave one and is giving the mayor sleepless nights until it is finally resolved.
Torontonians say Mayor Rob Ford’s Scandals make their City too Interesting - Dateline: TORONTO—Toronto’s... http://t.co/BdHrfVhH5U— RedneckRealityCheck (@RedneckReality) November 27, 2013
So Rob Ford *still* hasn’t been run out of his job as mayor of Toronto? The Canadians really are polite...— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) November 27, 2013
Those who’ve had their ears full of this news don’t want to see him sitting in that seat anymore. At the same time, Mayor Rob Ford still shows a fan following of 42% in the recent polls, meaning that he still has many loyalists wanting him to be their mayor.
A public opinion poll held, after the police announcement, showed that 60% of Torontonians want Ford to step down, even though his approval rating had actually increased to 44% from 42%.
The Toronto City Council has asked Mayor Ford to step down but the Mayor has refused to comply with the decision. Therefore, when all was in vain, the Council decided to strip him from a chunk of his powers thus downsizing his role as a mayor. Ford’s chief of staff was laid off and six of his staff members resigned.
The moral that one can draw from the story is that when we aspire to acquire highly responsible leadership roles, it all boils down to taking ownership of these important roles assigned to us with a responsible attitude. If this is not possible then the fault in a leader’s personality can have serious and damaging effects, and adverse consequences leaving sub-ordinates to suffer.
As a public figure and in a technologically advanced age, one has to watch out for those hidden cameras at all times. You can be seen and perceived exactly how the camera catches you and that can make or break everything.
Remember the saying ‘even walls have ears’, well in this day and age, walls may not have ears, but they definitely have cameras!