A news leviathan that dominated today's headlines across Canada was confirmation, from Toronto's Police Chief Bill Blair, of the existence of the elusive Rob Ford "crack video."
It would be pointless to argue the authenticity of the video. Anything can be faked, but the apparent efforts of associates of Toronto's Mayor to procure the video suggests it was not a fabrication concocted by special effects experts.
That's the bad news for supporters of the embattled chief magistrate.
But for Torontonians who fear the demise of their only mayor to show demonstrable concern for fiscal accountability in over a generation, there is in fact a great deal of good news to counterbalance today's revelations.
Barring some new shocker, there will not be any charges against Ford, and quite reasonably so. A video with a man smoking a pipe with a puff of smoke coming out of it is not conclusive proof of any criminal wrongdoing.
Ford has said he's not resigning. And there's something that the ecstatic media buzzards that despise Ford have forgotten in their current euphoria; the next municipal election is a year away.
A year is an eternity in politics.
Ford has kept property taxes down to the rate of inflation, as he promised. He eliminated the Municipal Vehicle Registration Tax, as he promised. His influence has managed to get federal and provincial funding for subway expansion, as he promised. Ford has saved millions and improved garbage pick-up for half the city by privatizing that service, as he promised. Because the municipal unions knew he would play hardball, Ford was able to negotiate a fair contract with them, staving off any strike. That in stark contrast to his predecessor David Miller who forced the city to endure a prolonged, fetid garbage strike in the hottest months of the summer of 2009. At a point where the length of the strike would have forced union workers subsisting on strike pay to negotiate a deal more favorable to the city, Miller completely capitulated to the unions.
Miller is relevant to any current discussion about Ford. Because if one of Ford's presumptive rivals gets into office, like the straw man candidate David Sonacki, Miller's Budget Chief, to whom all of Toronto outside of the offices of The Toronto Star remain indifferent at best, a return to the fiscal ineptitude and high taxes of the previous administration is virtually guaranteed.
The orgy of sanctimonious revelry at The Toronto Star over the disclosure of the existence of the Ford video will probably turn out to be short lived.
Ford lied about the video. But in terms of lying, The Star also lied about Ford, when during his mayoral campaign, the newspaper published false accounts of Ford having physically assaulted a high school football player he was coaching. Even after the alleged victim of Ford's non-existent assault denied it ever happened, The Star still did not print a formal retraction of their lie.
And we all know that the public is not as inclined as partisan media and partisan politicians to become histrionic about politicians lying about events in their personal lives. Indeed, a hysterical overreaction to personal foibles can backfire in a big way against the people trying to exploit it.
Newt Gingrich thought he had Bill Clinton on the ropes after the lies the former President told about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. But in the end, it wasn't the President, but Gingrich, who lost his job. The Speaker of the House role was taken away from Gingrich after the charge he led plummeted the GOP into a disastrous performance in midterm elections, when the public rejected their exaggerated hysteria about the Clinton affair.
Toronto's media mavens have been scrambling over each other to demand the crucifixion of Ford, whose indiscretions have cost taxpayers nothing. Yet strangely, most of them have remained complacent and silent about the billions of tax dollars wasted by the corruption Kathleen Wynne's provincial government.
The public are not as stupid and oblivious to that hypocrisy as the media might hope.
The milquetoast, mushy middle Councilor Josh Matlow and leftist Councilor Joe Mihevc both rushed today to exploit the news about the Ford video to their advantage. That is the same Mihevic whose incompetence and mismanagement of the St. Clair streetcar fiasco cost the city tens of millions only to see a neighbourhood divided, no discernible improvement in transit service and increased traffic congestion in his ward.
"It pains me to see the City
of Toronto in the situation we currently face," Mihevic gloated about Ford. No more, I can assure you, than it pained me to see a $40 million project mushroom to over $120 million largely because of Mihevic's ineptness.
A year from now, when Torontonians go back to the polls to select their mayor, the Rob Ford video may or may not be on their minds. But so too will the high taxes, the incompetence, and the paternalistic arrogance of David Miller and his acolytes on City Council. Knowing that horrible stewardship of the city, and union-bosses' and developers' domination of City Hall would return if one of Ford's potential rivals like Olivia Chow, David Sonacki or Karen Stintz should replace him will also be on the minds of voters.
Which weighs more heavily on Toronto's voters in the fall of 2014 remains to be seen. But I wouldn't count out Rob Ford yet. Not by a long shot.