I’ve not published a lot the last few weeks: the big reason was that I was so busy with Toronto’s Pride celebration, and with all that was happening, I had to decide on priorities. I’ve been getting some of my writing practise on more faith-oriented websites, and I hope to back-post them from last week. But with the return of Mayor Ford to Toronto yesterday, the need speak out has returned.
I caught the tail end of his emotional return speech, and almost instantly could tell that he had not changed much. I know a lot of people are willing to (want to) give him the benefit of the doubt; that after a couple of months in therapy for substance abuse they’re willing to have him try again. From my experience in counselling in my previous life as a pastor, this is not a good idea. Even if he had made a sincere effort to change, the time is too short and the pressure of being the mayor and entering immediately into another election are not what he needs right now. Then again, we know that his family are “enablers”, and this is an example. He wants the life of one who is cured without making the effort, and they want the power of the mayor of the city without paying the price. This is a recipe for disaster.
Some observations about his speech, from the full text (CBC, 2014):
“To the people of this great city… I used poor judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Yet he’s not willing to step down as mayor. That’s not “full responsibility”. The highest position in this city needs to have good judgement. Certainly lots of people use poor judgement, and many lose their jobs because of it. Remember last year when “Mayor Rob Ford… ask[ed] for a city rec centre worker and their manager to be fired if… the employee was sleeping on the job” (CBC, 2013). The worker apparently used bad judgement, and Ford wanted him fired. How is this any different from this situation… except that Rob Ford’s drunken stupors were worse? Ford expects compassion when he was willing to give none? The misguided efforts continue.
“I am not asking you for forgiveness. I accept full responsibility for what I have done. Thankfully, we live in a civilized society. A society that realizes that people make mistakes.”
An interesting rhetorical twist… not asking for forgiveness, yet expecting to continue on like nothing has happened. Putting “forgiveness” as opposed to “taking full responsibility”: does he not understand the concept of forgiveness? My pastor-self is rolling over in his grave. Expecting that because he admits his “mistakes”, he can just pick up and continue on. Do we ever do that in this litigious society? Has Ford ever done anything like that? He really is a spoiled child.
“…some people need help, and those who seek out that help can be given another chance.”
Generally after they’ve admitted their failure and asked for forgiveness, of which he’s explicitly only done half. In the “12 Step Recovery Program”, probably the best known set of principles for overcoming addiction and the like, asking forgiveness and making amends is step 9. What did they teach you in this rich-boys’ “treatment” facility? Or did you really not make it that far?
“I plan to continue fighting for the taxpayers of Toronto.”
He’s made that perfectly clear. But I’ve never liked this terminology: because I don’t think of myself as a “taxpayer” when it comes to my involvement with the city, or any political activity. I’d rather think of myself as a citizen, or a voter: so that I’m equal with any of the Fords, or any other citizen. As a taxpayer I’m not equal; some pay lots more, some pay lots less. That’s what Confederation was all about: to ensure that we each have an equal say in how our political sphere is run, notwithstanding how much money we have or how much money we earn… or how much we pay in taxes. Ford’s preference in calling us “taxpayers” is a long step backwards.
But our mayor thinks of us that way. He thinks of us as remunerators of taxes, as sources of funds. And that’s how he runs his administration. I had hoped that we were beyond that in the city that was once known as “Toronto the Good”, but it would seem not.