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It's raining cats and dogs

It's raining cats and dogs



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It's raining cats and dogs in Toronto this morning, but it doesn't stop Toronto Mayor Rob Ford from continuing to make waves as he tries to distance himself from his many scandals. And as if that's not enough, the mayor also made some serious waves himself, when he asked the media to "give me some space," when a reporter put the pressure on him to explain more about the alleged video of him smoking crack cocaine.

The mayor of Canada's largest city has, until now, maintained his stance of saying he "did not inhale" and that he "cured" his cancer with a "non-traditional form of medicine." After all the recent bad news has come to light, perhaps it's time for the mayor to come clean and explain himself, just as the former mayor of Washington, D.C., recently did.

Let's talk about some of the recent developments that have helped put Ford on the defensive this week. It all started with the mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, claiming the allegations that he watched and was recorded on video smoking crack cocaine are false. Councillor Ford denied the video exists and said the alleged footage was filmed in 2003, when the mayor was in rehab for a drinking problem.

On Monday, Councillor Ford went so far as to say the allegations made by Mayor Ford's ex-girlfriend, Rachel McAdams, that he smoked crack during their relationship, are "nonsensical." It was only after the scandal broke that the mayor himself finally admitted he did, in fact, drink alcohol and take drugs. The former mayor also said he smoked crack "in one of my drunken stupors," and that he only stopped when he was asked to by a friend. The mayor said he doesn't use any drugs, not even alcohol.

The mayor has also said that he's not gay, even though he has been spotted with men and on many occasions joked about how he wants to perform oral sex on them. A city council member has since resigned because of the scandal. The mayor said he doesn't condone what his brother did, and that he has "taken some responsibility" for it.

The question, then, is how the mayor can turn around and say he didn't know about Councillor Ford's video on Nov. 28, when the former leader of the Ford Nation told the Toronto Sun he had made the video of himself smoking crack. And why was Mayor Ford at the cottage in Muskoka last week with the leader of his political base?

If the mayor thinks the allegations against his brother are meaningless because he never saw the crack video himself, well, he's wrong.

And then there's the issue of whether the mayor should take a leave of absence. This week, Ford said he'll take a break from his job, a statement that, for the first time, came from the mayor himself. But the mayor said he's not quitting and that he will be returning.

Ford made that statement after meeting with members of his executive committee and the city's integrity commissioner, but he didn't answer a question about whether he will take a leave of absence. He said it will be "very simple," and for him to go back to work will be "the simple part."

The mayor, again, was wrong to say that. He has shown a reckless disregard for truth and accountability in the face of a major controversy. A leave of absence would show that the mayor is taking responsibility for his administration. It would show a leadership transition.

The mayor has said he's a man of "integrity," but a leave of absence would give his own version of credibility to that. The last thing the city needs right now is a leader who isn't taking responsibility for the mistakes that have been made, isn't taking responsibility for the situation the city finds itself in. The mayor says he doesn't use crack, but his brother has been charged with drug offences. It's unclear whether Ford knows that his brother, in fact, used crack. It was just reported this week that, before he was elected, the mayor's cousin hired someone convicted of a violent crime.

It's unclear, too, whether the mayor knows that two of his friends and councillors have said they would have done the same thing to his wife.

And when he says he won't run again, he could be lying. That's why the media and councillors and the integrity commissioner need to be probing.

Ford is a mayor who has had access to a high-end city council for six years. He's the mayor who should have been forced to go. We all want a mayor who has integrity, a leader who is respected. That doesn't always mean a mayor who is above reproach. In this case, though, Ford is doing things that aren't right.

If he wants to take a leave of absence, he should do that. But if he wants to stay, he's got to show he's different. That means he should resign and go on leave and show that he is a different kind of mayor.

For more on the Ford crack scandal and the mayor's crack comments, read John Moore's blog.

What's a reasonable compromise? He can run under the mayoralty banner and give the mayoralty his name. He can step down from all municipal committees but retain his city councillor duties, thus making it difficult to attack him from both sides.

He can stay in office and take leave of absence.

He can stay in office and give up his city council salary and benefits.

He can resign.

It's clear that the mayor wants to do something different, but it will take more than a week or two to see how this plays out.

At this point, Mayor Ford has done a lot of damage. A scandal, no matter how messy, is usually followed by a period of time when public interest begins to fade. By now, this scandal has been open for weeks. It will be open longer. It may not matter. At some point, there will be a reckoning.

It may not be as bad as it could have been. A week ago, I thought we could expect a big resignation from the mayor. I've been wrong about this before, but a week ago I really thought it was a distinct possibility.

The story today is that Mayor Ford will be asked to step down from all municipal offices. This is a big, big move that would be unprecedented in Toronto's history.

At the moment, the mayor's allies are trying to spin this. They're saying this is not the mayor's decision. It's all the city council. That's obviously not true. The mayor is the leader of the executive branch. The city council has jurisdiction over the executive branch. The mayor could have fired the city manager, or he could have cut off all money to the city manager, but he didn't.

He's been given a choice between resigning or stepping down from his offices. He made his choice. The city council made a different choice. But that doesn't matter. The mayor


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