Among the more unsettling aspects of the Rob Ford crack video fiasco has been the insistence, at least among some of his supporters, that it doesn't matter if the Mayor is a crack a smoker. There is a vague libertarian tinge to this argument. So long as the Mayor does a good job, who cares what he puts into his body? The argument is somewhat amusing because many of its proponents have no problem with the Drug Wars.
If we were talking about some two bit dealer, the alleged amateur videographers in the scandal for instance, the talk would be of throwing the book at these scumbags. Should a Left leaning pol have been caught on camera, calls for resignation would be coming from the same quarter.
Step back a moment from the partisan warfare and consider this: Would you invest in a firm whose CEO was an addict? Would you trust a lawyer or accountant who routinely indulged in mind altering substances? This isn't an issue of individual liberty. Rob Ford is the Mayor of Toronto. This is a matter of the capacity to uphold a public trust. A crack addict is by definition incapable of holding such a position.
There are some high functioning alcoholics, though in time even they break down and become overwhelmed. There are certainly many senior figures in Canada who indulge in recreational marijuana use. A routine crack user is in a different category. There are clear and obvious concerns as to their ability to discharge their duty. There is the possibility of blackmail. What if the people supplying the drugs are involved in other activities? Then there are the more straight forward legal complications.
Whatever your opinion of the Drug Laws they still remain on the statute books. If these allegations are true, the Toronto Police Service is placed in an awkward position. The city's Chief Magistrate is a known criminal. Their ultimate boss is a crook. Do they arrest the Mayor? If they don't are they thereby openly signalling that the law is applied differently to elected officials? Or at least ones with a strong electoral base?
This scandal du jour might yet turn out to be a con job by Rob Ford's enemies. The Mayor has been remarkably unhelpful at clearing his name, sending a series of proxies, most notably his brother, to deal with the media for over a week before coming out himself. These do not look to be the actions of an innocent man. Even if he is the victim of foul media play, he has hardly covered himself with glory these last few days.