Toronto this week — the good, the bad, the truly sad, and yes, the funny…

TorontoIt isn’t easy being a proud Torontonian these days.

One’s ability to stand tall is stretched to the max, (especially in the case of the vertically challenged, like me!) and, by association with our beleaguered Mayor Rob Ford, we are finding ourselves subject to an onslaught of slings and arrows.

There seems to be no shortage of blame to go around, when it comes to our current situation. The reports I’ve read this week have placed the fault alternately, and in equal proportions, on:

1- The voters.

Although I did not personally vote for Mr. Ford, I will admit that on last election day I had no knowledge of the behaviours that would later come to light. I find it exceedingly unfair that voters, in their best of intentions and political conscience at the time of casting votes, should be expected to have known the Ford family’s darkest secrets.

After all, we’re not talking about Adolf Hitler here. The man, to the best of my knowledge, has merely been guilty of acts of gross mis-conduct. Any criminal charges have yet to be laid, and in any event, surely would not have been apparent to the public last election day.

2- The Ford family.

As someone who has experienced sharing a home with addicts (my father and previous husband) I find this one particularly sad. For the most part, family members are overwhelmed on a daily basis with such necessities as running the household, keeping young people safe, attempting to safe-guard themselves and the addict from the fallout of their addictions, and in many cases, simply trying to stay alive, despite often violent outbursts from the addict, and an inner insidious depression that can kill the soul.

No, the family is not to blame. They are not “Enabling”, they are simply trying their best to carry on, to support their family member while finding some elusive meaning in their own lives.

3- The Municipal Electoral process.

I’ve heard so many public cries this week to “Remove Ford” from his position.

However, in a democratic society, this can be a slippery slope.

I had hoped Mayor Ford (for he is still Mayor) would have heeded the calls to at least take a break, 3 to 6 months, to get his act somewhat together. I can understand his reluctance to step down altogether, as this might set a precedent where any elected official can be forced out of office without calling upon the democratic process. However, the decent thing would be for him to take that break, allow himself, his family and his ‘beloved’ city to cool off and perhaps save face.

No, in my opinion, the Electoral process is not to blame.

4- The Media.

Yes, there has been a frenzy, the likes of which I’ve seldom (if ever) seen in this city.

Yes, there has been much public flogging of this troubled man, far more than I personally feel comfortable with.

It’s almost as if the citizens of Toronto are looking at Mayor Ford on the big screen, as if he isn’t really a human being, but a trained dancing bear who needs to be poked and prodded in order to perform.

One gets the sense that it’s altogether too easy to point at this man and say, “Well, I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not Rob Ford!”

And the Media has played its part in this performance. Of course, they would argue that, without them, Mayor Ford’s acts of intensely poor behaviour may not have come to light at all, and they are right.

So no, as distasteful as I might find the on-going attempts to humiliate Mayor Ford and his family to be, I cannot blame the Media for pointing out ‘the obvious’.

And thank goodness for the Comedians, who work and play within the Media!

People like Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and their kind, have, at the very least, given us permission to laugh!

We need laughter in these difficult times. And I don’t mean just the cruel laughter aimed at a man who is obviously deeply troubled.

I mean that we need to laugh “Out Loud” at this situation we’ve gotten ourselves into. We need to laugh at ourselves, at Mayor Ford’s latest antics, at the whole damn mess!

We aren’t the first city to find ourselves embarrassed by the behaviour of our leaders, and we won’t be the last.

5- Mr. Mayor Ford.

Duh.

Addiction is a sickness, as I too-well know, having lived with my own share of addicts. We don’t look to blame people for their illnesses.

However, Mr. Ford must have known about his own impending descent when first he decided to run for this office. And he must now see the damage that has been done.

It’s time for Mayor Rob Ford to take a sober moment and think about what his next step should be, with our city’s best interests at heart.

There are, after all, other pressing issues our city needs to address.

According to CBC News, 348 people have now been arrested and 386 children rescued in what is being called an “international child porn case”.

Our Police Chief needs to either arrest Mayor Ford, or move on to new business. We need to ensure our city is not seen as a criminal-sponsoring hub of child-exploitation.

CTV News interviews Det. Cst. Lisa Belanger of the T.O. police child exploitation section.

Those who know me know this topic is very close to my heart.

Above all, a city/provice/country MUST protect its most vulnerable citizens: children, the sick and the elderly.

Less urgent, but no less pressing, our city needs some basic upgrades to its infra-structure, and not just of a cosmetic nature. Our roads and thoroughfares have been allowed to disintegrate for far too long, failing to properly service what is now known to be the fourth largest city in North America.

My recommendation for Toronto this week: Take a page out of the Al-Anon handbook for living with an addict.

There is work to be done. It’s time to put aside all differences and arguments and get on with the job of managing this worthwhile city.

If Mayor Ford remains at the somewhat unstable helm, so be it. Let’s get on with business and our lives anyway.

We’ll all get the chance to fix this problem on October 17, 2014.

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