Canadian politics are cracking

By Gauntlet Editorial Board

Senator Mike Duffy has been in the middle of spending scandals over in-eligible housing expenses and former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt was charged with two counts of gangsterism along with 10 other offences. What is Canadian politics coming to? Next thing we know, politicians will be smoking crack. Oh wait. Toronto mayor Rob Ford is already accused of doing so. 

Ford is arguably the most notorious Canadian politician today. On Thursday May 16, Toronto Star reporters announced that they had seen a video replayed three times on a cell phone showing a man they identified as Rob Ford smoking a pipe, acting intoxicated and saying barely comprehensible things, such as making homosexual slurs against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and comments about the “minorities” on his football team. While this announcement makes us here in Calgary even more thankful for our mayor Naheed Nenshi, the scandal raises grave concerns about the state of Canadian politics. 

This announcement isn’t as surprising as it should be, which makes us wonder, what behaviour will we accept from our politicians? These are the people who decide decide the amount of money we are taxed and where this tax money is spent. They are the people who can raise awareness of important issues or sweep them under the rug. But more than that, these potiticians are our country’s leaders and represent us as a city, province or country at a global level. 

We don’t expect politicians to be perfect. They are people too, and the pressures of their job are intense. But we elect them, and so we trust them to have a certain level of moral integrity, a sense of service, public duty and respect. Smoking crack goes against all of these. 

Even if Rob Ford didn’t smoke crack, he should be stepping up and addressing these claims. He has called them “ridiculous” and will try to use his long feud with the Toronto Star to discredit the Star’s allegations, but Ford is going to have to be more convincing before we think he’s fit to lead a city. 

One of the ways to further support or refute the claims is to access the 90-second video clip and further identify the man who is smoking the pipe. The video is believed to be held by people involved in the drug trade. The asking price is $200,000 so Gawker, a news blog that also sent a reporter to see the video, started a Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign — dubbed the Crackstarter — to raise the money. The campaign has raised over $120,000 in less than a week. Further analysis of the video will hopefully prove or disprove these claims, but it won’t resolve the issue of electing corrupt politicians. If the video is never seen again or is found to be inconclusive, we will still be left with the embarrasment of having top Canadian politicians accused of smoking crack. 

Rob Ford’s allies should re-think why they support him and if anyone thinks they can do better, they should run against him. However, the next Toronto municipal elections are in October of 2014, and this scandal could possibly blow over before then. 

Voters should think about who they vote for and what sort of candidate they want to represent them. While Rob Ford deserves to be removed from office, voters need to think about how he got the job in the first place.

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