Was anyone truly surprised — other than, perhaps, the Ford brothers themselves — to see Rob’s unprofessional antics make headlines again last week? The Mayor of Toronto was not only filmed while drunk in public at a late-night restaurant, but using possibly racist terminology while displaying a clear bias against the city’s police commissioner.
I guess the only thing less surprising would be if we didn’t hear the same excuses all over again: first denial (granted, only by brother Doug), then admission, then blame, not on oneself or one’s addiction, but rather, the media for intruding upon his so-called private time.
It’s ridiculous to believe that, in these media-addled days, that anyone — let alone the mayor of Canada’s largest city, which has the same population as some countries do — should expect any kind of privacy. The fervor and fury garnered by that other now-infamous video of him smoking crack with what police politely call “persons of interest” would have made a less arrogant man retire from the public spotlight. But instead we got vehement denials, then admission, and then a poorly named “come to Jesus” moment literally had on National television where Ford vowed to Peter Mansbridge, and the country at large, that he would never drink again.
This isn’t to make light of addiction. Personal demons are a constant struggle for even the most private person. But when someone is perpetually in the limelight — by choice, or by ignorance of the fact that his divisive personality makes him a target — this struggle is overshadowed by the ensuing sideshow. Giving his alcohol addiction a time-sensitive ultimatum on national television wasn’t brave; it was a challenge to the world at large to monitor his every move. Stepping down and sobering up on his own, truly private, time would have been brave.
It is well within the media’s right to report on the demons which haunt the symbolic head of our country’s largest city; sobriety is key to competence, after all. And never mind the fact that he remains close with other persons of interest, lied about smoking crack and made questionable comments about his wife. But at the same time, all of this focus — however necessary — on his personal demons takes coverage away from the true issues of the day, which affect us long after the dramatics of the day are forgotten.
As long as Ford remains in public office, this cat-and-mouse show will go on between him, the public, and the media which cover it all (the Toronto Star food critic, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, reviewed the Etobicoke restaurant where the latest footage was shot). The game will continue at least until Election Day on Oct. 27. With Ford running again, what will the ballots give birth to in nine months?
Ford says that his private life is just that, but just because you say so doesn’t make it true. So many people have been fascinated by this salacious saga; for some, it reinforces their opinion that Ford is an arrogant trust fund kid; while, for others, their “fighter for the little guy” is the sacrificial lamb for those liberal media elite (seriously, have they seen our paycheques?).
But the joke about dirty politicians is so old it’s not funny anymore, especially in light of what we’ve endured lately (the Senate scandal included). Perhaps demanding moral fibre from our candidates is too much to ask in this day and age, when the unblinking eye of camera phones and the undeletable memory of the Internet keeps all of our foibles forever. Perhaps we need to consider those who hold public office more so on how they apologize and make amends after the fact rather than keeping their noses clean in the first place.
Pretty much every ingredient in this recipe is as divisive as a Ford brother. But if you value all these ingredients — or maybe if you don’t! — you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this side dish.
Broccoli with Anchovies
(from The Silver Spoon cookbook)
2 lbs. broccoli, cut into flowerets
3 ounces salted anchovies
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves
½ dried red chili
Cook the broccoli in salted, boiling water for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak anchovies in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain. Heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and chili and cook for one minute. Add anchovies and cook, mashing with a wooden spoon until they have almost completely disintegrated. Remove and discard the garlic. Drain broccoli, add to the pan, mix well and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves four.