Rob Ford and the End of Honour

By Ogata, Ken; Couto, Naomi et al. | The Innovation Journal, September 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Rob Ford and the End of Honour


Ogata, Ken, Couto, Naomi, Greene, Ian, The Innovation Journal


ABSTRACT

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has achieved a level of notoriety unique amongst Canadian politicians for his admissions of drug and alcohol use, and subsequent attempts to deflect media attention and public scrutiny. Due to these indiscretions and admissions, Toronto City Council voted to remove the mayor's emergency, executive and budgetary powers, and transfer official responsibility to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. These actions though were due to the lack of legal remedies to remove Ford formally from office.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that Ford should not survive such revelations politically. Based upon police wiretap transcripts, even gang members believed that the threat of such exposure was sufficient to protect them from blowback. Yet Ford remained in office, for reasons unexplained by existing literature. We attempt to explain this lack of loss of legitimacy through the lens of Aristotle's notions of ethos, logos and pathos.

Ultimately, the Ford conundrum has exposed the legal void created when politicians fail to abide by the moral dictates of the law. We suggest that legal remedies were not included within existing legislation, as its drafters never contemplated the possibility of such defiance. It was believed that such behaviour would either result in irreparable loss of political capital/support or that politicians would act honourably and resign. Whether due to naiveté or ignorance, this demise of political honour now endangers the entire framework of public accountability. Accordingly, new and innovative measures are required to provide redress. We propose a process that combines traditional notions of moral responsibility, with the enactment of more formal legal remedies, to provide municipal governments with the power to remove individuals who threaten the integrity of our civic institutions, as a form of shared responsibility.

Keywords: Rob Ford, Conflict of Interest Case, Ethics, Aristotle, Honour, Innovation.

To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down. And I can't '/ do anything else but apologize and apologize and I'm so sorry...I ...I love my job. I love my job. I love this city, love saving taxpayers' money and I love being your mayor ...For the sake of the taxpayers of this great city -for the sake of the taxpayers -we must get back to work immediately...I ...I was elected to do a job and that's exactly what Fm going to continue doing (Rob Ford, as quoted in the Globe and Mail on November 5, 2013).

Introduction and Background

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has achieved a level of notoriety unique amongst Canadian politicians. Elected as mayor in October 2010 on a platform of "Respect for Taxpayers" and "Stopping the gravy train," Rob Ford rode a wave of popular support against waste and inefficiency in municipal operations. Ford garnered 47.1% support from across the city (CBC News, 2010; Alcoba, 2010), but particularly in the suburbs, adopting the moniker of 'Ford Nation' (it should also be noted that the slate of candidates for Mayor was one of the least appealing in Toronto's history). However, once elected and aided by his brother Doug Ford, who now represented Rob's former ward, and building a coalition of right wing and centrist support on Council, Mayor Ford was initially able to deliver upon his campaign promises to freeze property taxes, find efficiencies, cancel the Transit City public transit plan, and, according to some, 'fix the mess' left by the previous Miller administration.

Over time however, the Mayor slowly began to bleed support on Council over several contentious issues. The first major issue involved redevelopment of the Toronto Port lands waterfront area. Under the auspices of a tri-government agency (Waterfront Toronto), slow progress was being made on remediating the former industrial lands and developing flood control for the Don River to allow new residential and commercial development. The Waterfront plan had been underway for 10 years, and had achieved broad community, government and business support. …

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