You know the story by now. An alleged crack video. A denial by Mayor Rob Ford. A lengthy police investigation. A revelation by police Chief Bill Blair. And now, once again: Chaos at Toronto City Hall.
It seems like everyone with a soapbox has made an impassioned plea for Ford’s resignation over the last few days. These calls are well-intentioned — rational, even — but they’ve also been ineffective. On the radio Sunday, with a long-winded but totally unambiguous attempt at apology, Ford made it clear he ain’t going anywhere.
Which means the question isn’t “will Ford resign?” It’s “what next?”
The important thing is that city hall doesn’t fall back to the status quo.
That’s happened before. Facing scandal after scandal, Ford has somehow been able to wait out the storm and somehow get back to some semblance of normal business.
That shouldn’t happen this time, if only because we’re now staring at the concrete truth about Ford: With him, there is always more and it is always worse. Even if he somehow is able to wait out this scandalous story, there will be another scandalous story — days, weeks or months ahead — that plunges us right back into chaos.
This is not a cycle Toronto wants to be on. The business of the city is too important.
To break the cycle, two things need to happen.
First, the business community and the right-wing establishment in this city need to permanently jump off the Ford bandwagon. I get that they were all very excited to find a Toronto conservative candidate who was, for once, likeable and electable, but enough is enough.
For all this talk of the righteous “Ford agenda,” the man isn’t even that great at implementing it. There are at least a dozen local politicians who would be better at putting in place right-wing policies — without the baggage.
Second, Ford’s colleagues on council, on both the left and the right, need to put in place a strategy to effectively work around the mayor. Some councillors have been laying the groundwork for this for a while, but it’s time to kick it up a notch. Ideological differences need to be put aside in favour of what’s best for the city, and that’s a political climate that isn’t defined by Ford.
Councillors have options. With a two-thirds majority voting for change, they could alter some of their procedural bylaws and restructure committees to curtail some of the mayor’s ability to hold up business.
Some will call these kinds of tactics extreme, but if this isn’t an extreme situation, what is? In other words, since the mayor won’t quit, council should bench him.
Let him watch from the sidelines — there’s work to be done.