According to the Toronto Star and the gossip website Gawker.com, there is a cellphone video for sale that purportedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
CBC News has not seen the video and has not been able to validate any of the claims being made.
On Friday, Ford told reporters that the "allegations are ridiculous. It's another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me and that's all."
Whether the allegations are true or not is now beside the point. Rob Ford has become not only his own worst enemy but the worst enemy of conservatives on Toronto council. His frank and populist style was once seen as a powerful asset, as a way of mobilizing the more right-leaning inner-suburbs against the pinkish enclaves of the old City of Toronto. That's no longer the case. The real and imagined scandals that have plagued Rob Ford are now the issue. Not his record, which is considerable and positive, but the man himself is now a threat to further constructive reform.
The Toronto Star has waged an unceasing and unprofessional vendetta against the Mayor. From video clips of Ford walking into a fast food restaurant, to exaggerations and distortions of Ford's business dealings, the Red Star has embarrassed itself as much as it has embarrassed the Mayor. There is an ethical lapse in allowing such disgraceful conduct to occur in a large media outlet. The Star has always been biased, yet it has rarely in its past been this vindictive toward an elected official.
Whatever the demerits of the MSM's conduct, Rob Ford stands where he does now because of Rob Ford. His populist predecessors, such as Mel Lastman, would often say stupid things but they would rarely do stupid things. These pols had enough of an instinct for self preservation not to flip the bird at a passing motorist, not to embarrass oneself in a weight-loss contest, in general to think before they acted in hopes of not making a fool of themselves.
There is a little voice in back of most sane people's brains. It tells them when they are doing something stupid or morally wrong. We don't always pay attention to that voice. Most of the time we do. That willingness to heed our better sides is what keeps the majority of mankind from destroying itself. The more we ignore that voice, the more we slip toward recklessness, cowardice and incompetence. That little voice in the back of Rob Ford's head has either been silenced or it has died from loneliness.
Yes, the media is out to get Rob Ford. It's politics. Most hacks are not militantly left-wing, though their political assumptions are broadly statist. What almost all successful reporters have, no matter what their political inclinations, is a sixth sense about good copy. They can smell blood from miles away. Even the most right-leaning member of Ford Nation, who has a slight tinge of journalistic ability, can sense Rob Ford is a headline generating machine. More than that he generates the right kind of headlines: Cheap, simple and easy to understand.
He's a big fat white guy who keeps getting himself into trouble. The man is an elected Fox sitcom.
That's why he has to go. Hopefully to be replaced by someone with his values but also with a modicum of common sense. When faced with allegations, whether absurd or serious, the instinctive reaction of the Mayor has been to whine like a petulant child and to blame a vast-left-wing conspiracy. It never seems to have occurred to the Mayor, who has a penchant for self-pity, that this same media complex is also besieging Tim Hudak, Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney, John Baird and Danielle Smith. Whatever you think of those politicians, each is enough of a professional to deal with the media they're stuck with, rather than wish for a media that has never existed.
For the good of Toronto, Rob Ford needs to go.