The Rob Ford carnival bus rolls on

Only Toronto's mayor could make allegations of cocaine use and prostitutes even worse

Chris Young/CP

It’s inhuman, what Rob Ford does to those reporters. No sooner have they scuttled to their desks at City Hall than he resurfaces to top the most recent round of revelations. Then the press gang retraces its route, like a school of salmon, to the news-spawning ground outside the Office of the Mayor—trailed by assorted councillors anxious to feed off the resulting airtime.

Finally, the journos rush back to file before the next alert (quick! there’s a lectern up in the protocol lounge!) and the cycle starts over. Ford keeps saying he’s had enough. Heaven knows he’s not the only one.

Maybe it would be more efficient to assemble a sports-style highlight pack. In the last 36 hours, Rob Ford has:

  • admitted to buying illicit drugs
  • been asked to take a leave from council and to apologize for lying to Torontonians
  • refused said request
  • admitted to drinking and driving
  • denied snorting cocaine at the Bier Markt bar on St. Patrick’s Day 2012 (or, as he put it, “doin’ lines”)
  • denied retaining the services of prostitutes
  • insisted that a woman seen with him that evening (is this her?) is not a hooker, but “a friend”
  • been compared to Jesus
  • threatened to sue his former staffers over what they told police
  • denied telling a former staffer he was going to “eat her p—y” (his words), adding: “I’ve got more than enough to eat at home”
  • apologized for above formulation, blaming job pressure
  • been shunned by fellow councillors in the council chamber
  • received an offer of help from Charlie Sheen

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a sense of how large and diverse the task of covering the “Crack Mayor” can be. While there are concerns that Ford-related publicity will taint the reputation of the city and wind up costing jobs, he’s almost certainly creating employment for journalists. Too much, for some.

But it also illustrates what Ford’s days are going to be like if this is allowed to go on, and it’s hard to imagine a man without substance abuse problems holding up under the barrage.

Indeed, there’s a growing sense at City Hall that he’s on the brink of a catastrophic meltdown: even Giorgio Mammoliti, the one colleague to support Ford through Thursday’s star chamber treatment at council, changed his tune, speculating that the mayor might even now be on drugs. “If he doesn’t check himself in for treatment, then he’s lost me,” Mammoliti said after hearing Ford spew vulgarities Thursday morning. “He’s got until the end of the day.”

Ford’s tenure, it goes without saying, doesn’t hang on Mammoliti’s support. But it was one more indication that the mayor’s denial and desperation are starting to scare people whose opinions matter to him. On that front, there were noteworthy developments on Thursday.

First, the Toronto Argonauts tweeted a terse statement this morning after watching the mayor’s disgraceful media scrum. Ford had been wearing one of club’s jerseys to hype an upcoming CFL playoff game, prompting the reigning Grey Cup champions to distance themselves from Ford and his remarks:

The situation with respect to the Mayor and his leadership is unseemly at best. These latest remarks, while [Ford was] wearing our team’s jersey, are particularly disappointing given our organization’s work in the community to help youth deal with issues of bullying prevention. We hope for the benefit of the wonderful citizens of Toronto and this great city that this situation is resolved expeditiously.

Laugh if you will. But the mayor clearly prizes the warm reception he has, until now, received in football circles. He was devastated earlier this year when the high school team he coached, the Don Bosco Eagles, cut ties with him over remarks he’d made that parents felt reflected badly on the school. Not long after the Argos issued their statement, Ford called a news conference to apologize for his choice of words.

Then the premier piped up, seeming to reverse earlier remarks to the effect the province had no intention of stepping in if Ford refused to step down. “If council were to clearly indicate that they lack the ability to function as a result of this matter,” said Kathleen Wynne, “the province would respond to a request from council to be provided new tools depending on what that request might be.” Wynne said she would need the support of all three parties in the provincial legislature to take any kind of action.

Those sound like high hurdles. Yet council is, as of now, all but unanimous on the need for Ford to take some sort of leave. Yes, some members say they can soldier on, but the mayor showed Wednesday in repeated set-tos with the speaker and other members of council just how disruptive he can be.

The alternative? Toronto’s longest running circus, is held over yet again. Granted, Ford claims he’s getting help from “a team of health-care professionals.” But resign he won’t, so those weary scribes down at City Hall better hope this team is the health-care equivalent of the 2012 Argos.

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