Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is surrounded by press, following a meeting with the Toronto City Council that ended with several of his powers removed. (Image Source: Reuters)
Today, Rob Ford took the kind of beating that sometimes happens to politicians, but never to the Mayor of Toronto, Ontario. Denied by law the ability to impeach Ford and remove him from office following his admission of smoking crack cocaine, the Toronto City Council did the next best thing, and stripped away many of his key powers as Mayor. In a 39-3 vote, Rob Ford lost his ability to select a deputy mayor and executive committee. A subsequent vote of 41-2 handed over emergency powers to the deputy mayor, and a vote next week will likely hand over non-specific powers and duties, including the mayor's budget, to deputy mayor Norm Kelly. But, instead of admitting defeat, Rob Ford vowed a fight to the end, moving to appeal the ruling. What will it take for this wounded behemoth of a man to fall? Will Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, move to get Ford out of office? Will Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper step in to stop him?
Rob Ford is the gift that keeps on giving to the tabloid press and late-night talk show circuit, especially after yesterday's shenanigans. However, he seems intent on seeing the end of his term, which ends in 2014. Ford may even seek re-election, though chances are that he is likely to hit third place in the vote at the moment. Furthermore, despite all efforts to reduce his damage to Toronto's image, and the press abandoning him, he is still somehow managing to earn himself more limelight through a reality television show to be broadcast on the Canadian version of Fox News, Sun News Network.
Stripping away the mayor's powers to the point of making Rob Ford a leader to Toronto in name only is a plausible solution, but his Limbaugh-like presence will remain paramount to Toronto's existence for at least another year, and that can hurt the city in many ways. One solution has been for Premier Wynne and the Ontario government to intervene on the matter, should the city authorities request it. Wynne has been supportive of this measure, though only to a degree.
The other option, which has been little talked about, is calling in none other than the Canadian Prime Minister himself. Ford's Progressive Conservatives are linked at the national level to Harper's Conservatives, and while the damage to the party has been minimal at the moment, the scandal's effects to voters in Ontario may push them away in the national elections that are expected in a little more than 2 years. Harper is a bit scandal-ridden himself, and is not the greatest communicator, but perhaps a little buddy-to-buddy, mano-to-mano conversation with Ford would help the mayor end his fight and give up his post. After all, Harper does not want to see his country's largest city collapse under its own weight, right?
Worse comes to worse, we can always call in Batkid to save the day. Rob Ford kind of looks like The Penguin, after all.