Meanwhile in the Imperial Capital:
An Ontario judge has ordered that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford be relieved of his duties as the city's chief magistrate after it was found he violated conflict of interest rules, but the outspoken politician says he'll fight the decision.
On Monday morning, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland said in his ruling that the mayor violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by speaking and participating in a council vote regarding a financial penalty he was ordered to pay after he was found to have violated council's code of conduct by soliciting donations to his football charity using city materials.
In London the mayor is about to be removed based on clear evidence of abuse of federal funds.
The mayor of Toronto is being removed because he solicited donations for a football charity.
Say what you will about the largest city in the country, but even our scandals have a dull worthiness about them.
It must, of course, be noted that a politician better blessed with political acumen than Rob Ford would not have found himself in court. Certainly a more skillful figure would not have been tossed out of office on such flimsy matters. A man less filled with bluster and blunder would have avoided this fate. His ideological enemies were using every dirty trick they could recall against the soon to be ex-mayor. That is the nature of the game. Rob Ford is not guilty of a crime. Instead he is guilty of something far worse in modern politics, he is guilty of making a mistake. Several actually.
There is no point complaining about the ludicrous unfair nature of what has happened. It is true that what Rob Ford has done is a tiny of fraction of the documented sins of Dalton McGuinty. The Premier has wasted billions and lied to a degree that is impressive even by the low standards of modern politics. The Dalt is many things, many of which are unprintable, but he is above all a professional politician. Therein lies the vital difference.
There is no substitute in politics for professionalism. No matter how noble the vision, no matter how correct the ideas and no matter how skillful the back office operation, there is no substitute for knowing how to play the political game. For all Rob Ford's many virtues and laudable accomplishments, he is a very poor politician. He is not a terribly inspiring adult either.
Over the last two years I kept wondering when his mother, or wife or some other wise woman would admonish him for his behaviour. I say woman because there are certain ways a woman can admonish a man that a man can never admonish another man. This is a terribly reactionary thing to say yet utterly true, like so many other terribly reactionary things. Some impressive matriarch should have boxed Rob Ford's ears a few times. That would have been a fitting punishment.
What we have seen instead is a judicial coup. A judge exaggerating a trivial blunder into, in political terms, a capital offence. A more perceptive politician would have seen the danger of voting in council on a measure that personally concerned him. Whatever the law, the optics were very poor. Had he recused himself the issue likely would have died. Another minor controversy in a controversial career. Instead it has become the fly that fell the elephant.
Rob Ford has ultimately only himself to blame. He has spent the last two years handing out rope to his enemies. They had only to wait until they came across an appropriately sized tree.
Perhaps this is the end of Rob Ford. It is must not be the end of the best that Ford represents. What Toronto needs is a professional conservative politician. The question is where to find one.