An Open Letter to Mayor Rob Ford – A Political Review

Dear Mr. Ford,

You don’t know me. We’ve never met although I have tweeted insulting things at you before. I should start off this letter by apologizing for any hurtful thing I’ve said towards you or about you, as bullying is no way to get anywhere in this world. I am not a citizen of Toronto. I am not a constituent who has the right to vote for or against you. However, I am a Canadian. Born and bred. I was born and raised in London, Ontario, just south of your tremendous metropolis. I studied Criminology with a focus in Psychology in Ottawa, Ontario, where I currently reside and work as an Addictions Counselor. First and foremost: I love Toronto. Let me stipulate though that I never want live there. Ottawa is big and busy enough for me, but I do love your town. Every time I visit there is always something new to do and new places to explore. Many of my closest friends live in Toronto and I come down as often as I can. Secondly: I am a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. It’s hard to be a Leafs fan in a non-Leafs town, although some days it feels like there are more Leafs fans in Ottawa than there are in Toronto. While I enjoy sharing my candor and pleasure in regards to your city this letter is of a much more serious nature.

Yesterday, on November 5, 2013, you admitted to the media outlets that you have smoked crack-cocaine, and that you don’t remember doing so because you were in a drunken stupor. The only thing surprising about this announcement was the timing. With multiple reliable news outlets sourcing the existence of a video of you smoking crack-cocaine months ago, it wasn’t hard to believe that it had happened. With the multiple drug busts associated with some of your associates in the summer, it wasn’t hard to believe it had happened. With the recent extortion charges and surveillance footage surrounding your friend and possible colleague Alexander Lisi, it wasn’t hard to believe it had happened. What was hard to believe was how easily you were able to admit to this occurrence after months of vehemently denying it.

It doesn’t concern me that you smoked crack-cocaine. What concerns me is that you spent so much time, possibly money, and effort in concealing the truth from the public. You have to remember that you were lying not only to the people who voted against you, but the people who voted for you. You continue to promise that you will learn from your mistakes and change, but this is hard to believe, as you couldn’t even maintain the weight loss challenge that you promised the city you would commit to.

I am an Addictions Counsellor in high schools in Ottawa. I also serve some Grade 7 and 8 students and the other day I had a student come up to me and ask me if “crack-cocaine [was] a good drug, because Mayor Rob Ford uses it?” It pains me to think of children looking up to you as a role model, not because you smoked crack-cocaine, but that you did it in a drunken stupor and cannot admit to the fact that you have a severe drinking problem. This isn’t the first time that your drinking has gotten you in trouble. There are many documented times of you being in trouble with the law for drinking and driving, there have been domestic assault charges laid against you, and eventually dropped, that could very easily appear to be in relation to alcohol consumption.

I’m not here to call you an alcoholic. I’m not here to tell you that alcohol is bad. Alcohol in moderation is alright. But when you have a few drinks and then find yourself drunkenly stumbling down a street, posing for pictures with people without a care in the world, or find yourself at a gala or a party where people are so confused by your behaviour that they assume you are on drugs or drunk, or where you get so drunk that smoking crack-cocaine becomes a good idea, it is evident that you are treating alcohol as a drug and not as something to drink socially.

If you are so care free to start smoking crack-cocaine when you are in a drunken stupor, how long is going to be before you feel care free enough to get behind the wheel of a car and drive (again) in a drunken stupor? How long is it going to be before you come home late feeling care free one night and smack your wife or child around (again) in a drunken stupor? I worry, not for your safety Mr. Mayor, but for the safety of everyone else around you.

I am not calling on you to resign Mr. Mayor. I’m calling on you to be an example. Step up. Grow some Goddamn balls and speak out against alcohol abuse. Speak out against substance abuse issues. Enroll in a substance abuse program. It’s not crack-cocaine we’re worried about, it’s alcohol! Start attending Alcoholics Anonymous. You want the media to be on your side? Give them a reason to be. Step up. You have to remember that not only do you represent the city of Toronto as a Mayor, but you also represent Canada to other countries. You are the head of Canada’s largest metropolis, and are known around the world as such.  Stop being such a national embarrassment.

You have the chance that not many people have. You have the chance to be a positive role model to children. Right now the kid’s you coached football for must be devastated. But you can still be a role model to them. You can invest in them. But first you have to invest in yourself. Alcohol Abuse can lead to alcoholism and alcoholism is a disease, Mr. Mayor. Drunken stupors are not normal behaviour. Binge drinking is a sign of alcohol abuse. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you. For the city. For the nation. You just need to make the right choice and choose to live. I’m not saying that this option will be met without criticism. As they say: Haters are going to hate. But you have thick enough skin to handle whatever they throw at you. Gain back what little respect you actually had. Break down the stigma around substance use and abuse and: Step. The. Hell. Up. It’s on you now Mr. Mayor. The media is going to hound you. The pundits are going to criticize you. You can say everything is business as usual, but you don’t have support where you need it. This is your chance to get support, support that matters, support that can change your life, support that can change your family’s life, support that could maybe sway public opinion back in your favour. It may be too late. There’s a good chance that you will not be re-elected and that’s a reality you are going to have to face for the mistakes you have made. But you say that you are going to learn from your mistakes and grow from them? Make it more about your own health and less about a re-election campaign. You might be pleasantly surprised at what the changes may bring.


Matthew Champ