On Rob Ford
I'm very happy the fat fuck is out of office. He's bad for Toronto in many ways. From his idiotic stance on mass transit, his shit take on bikes, giving Don Cherry an ounce of attention, trouncing worker's right to strike, his stance on non-football related social services, his attempt to Americanize Toronto politics with idiotic partisan rhetoric, it's all bad and I'm against him.
All that said, I don't think that removing him from office is a justifiable sentence for his crime. The crime he was removed from office, the highest punishment democracy has for an elected official, was saying that he didn't think it was worth a court case to go after a politician for using state letterhead to raise money for a charity. Here's the thing: it's not. His votewouldn't have changed the outcome even if he did sit it out.
Was it stupid of him to vote on his own behalf? Obviously, and it's totally a conflict of interest. But it's not something worth pulling out the big guns for. We use removal from office for grave offenses, and gross dereliction of duty. But for using his official seal, and getting staffers to mail letters seeking charitable donations we're stripping him of his elected status?
For better or for worse, Rob Ford was elected by the people of the incorporated city of Toronto, and today he was removed from office by an unelected judge. A judge who even said that the rules made no sense since they essentially forbade a council member from speaking out on their own behalf:
"There may be a procedural fairness deficiency if councillors are precluded, at council meetings, from discussing potential findings or pecuniary sanctions which may be levied against them."
Which seems pretty fucking shitty. It's a pillar of our justice system, the right to speak in one's own defense, and this is effectively punishing him for not saying “I have an interest in defending myself.” No shit you do, and well you should.
Now, I get the arguments that it doesn't matter, he's a shitty mayor and fuck him let's get him out; that's fair enough, all true. But our justice system is not designed to try people for being generally not awesome. It's designed to try people for specific things, and only those things. If we allow the court to convict, or to punish, for crimes unrelated to the current trial, we've forsaken any idea of justice. Courts get to make up their own minds without any pretense of impartiality or empirical truth seeking. Once we allow courts to rule based on popular opinion, rather than the rule of law, we've given up any hope of maintaining an actual democracy.
Because of this trial the voice of the 48% of people in the GTA that voted for Ford have had their votes invalidated. This was a political trial, not one based on need or necessity. Rob Ford was ousted because he’s a shitbag, but he was a legally elected shitbag, and sometimes you have to lay in the shitbag bed you made.
It’s dirty politics, and it’s using an atomic bomb to take out an ant-hill. Having Rob Ford be forced to pay the money back, and publicly admit he was a shitbag about taking it, and that using his councilor stamp was an idiotic mistake, would’ve more than made up for it.
There’s lots of talk about how we’d be happy about the verdict happening if it was a councilor that we backed, but that’s horse shit and people on the left and the right need to recognize that. This was a giant shitty punishment meted out to a stupid little mistake. A wilful ignorant stupid mistake that there’s no excuse for making, and that pleading ignorance about just goes to show how shitty of a person, and mayor, he is. But really, removal from office is a might bit too severe.