Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Circus is in Town

The circus is in town. And I’m not talking about the Shrine Circus either. I’m talking about the circus that has been playing out around Toronto City Hall.

Around the world people are talking about the allegations, revealed by the U.S. gossip site, that Toronto’s mayor was caught on video smoking crack cocaine. The story has provided much fodder for American late-night television hosts. Toronto, its mayor, and but extension Canada have become the butt of numerous jokes. But it’s no laughing matter.

There are two issues that have troubled me all week long about the “scandal”.

First, the source. A gossip site that has seen the alleged video (also screened by two journalists from the Toronto Star) but does not possess the video and, in turn, sought to buy the video through a fundraising effort. Now, a week after the story broke, the owner of the video is unreachable. There’s something a little suspect about that.

Second, and perhaps more troubling (to me as a resident of Toronto), was the mayor’s silence and belated response. True: few people saw the purported video. True: it may seem like the media is on a witch-hunt when it comes to Rob Ford. True: one may be right to be suspicious of news stories based solely on anonymous sources. But …

Allegations that the mayor of Canada’s largest city was caught on video smoking crack cocaine are serious. Serious. Mayor Ford’s long silence created rightly or wrongly amongst his supporters and critics alike, suspicion. What we wanted, as Torontonians, was leadership. We wanted to hear immediately from our mayor that the allegations were false without a scintilla of truth. Or that he had made a mistake and was getting help. But initially we heard neither, not until the mayor’s brother spoke to the media. Not the mayor, but his brother. And when the mayor finally did speak, it seemed too little, too late. By this point the damage was done, and Toronto’s reputation was the price paid. That’s what is unforgivable.

No comments:

Post a Comment