Friday, June 18, 2010

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - ROB FORD ACTS FAST, STANDS TALL

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

It was a nightmare scenario for any public figure, let alone the perceived front-runner in the Toronto mayoral race. The Toronto Sun black-lined a story about a 52-minute conversation between candidate Rob Ford and a Toronto man – someone clearly upset, appealing for help in obtaining a family doctor and prescription pain-killers. The call was recorded, and the tape proffered around to, as it turns out, several media outlets. The Sun was the one that ran the story. Ford is quoted saying “I’ll try, buddy … I’ll try.” Ka-boom. But one thing about Rob Ford – he never shies away from ugly situations, so it wasn’t at all surprising to see him quoted in direct response to the leaked transcript, in the same story. This is crucial. By availing himself, Ford ensured that his side of the story was right there in black and white within the same article. “I just basically said what he wanted to hear,” Ford explained, pointing out that he tried to get off the phone several times, concerned by the man’s comment that he could “see (Ford’s) house” during the conversation. Later, in a news conference, Ford revealed that he had filed a formal complaint with police after he began fearing for his family’s safety, as had Etobicoke-Centre MPP Donna Cansfield, who also claims having been harassed by the man involved. Despite his somewhat of a loose cannon reputation, Ford has, over his years on city council, shown himself to be consistently frank with all comers, and a champion of law-and-order type issues. So he was in an excellent position to shoot down any suggestions that he would actually try and procure drugs for somebody (“I don’t know any drug dealers … I don’t even know what this s**t – that’s what I call drugs – this s**t’ is”). Ford also played it well expressing empathy for the man (“I personally feel sorry for him … he needs help”) even though he admitted feeling “set up” as a result of the whole thing. I think Ford’s track record of candour and willingness to try and help anyone who seeks his assistance will stand him in good stead, and combined with his quick communications response, this will be a colourful but brief footnote in the 2010 mayoral campaign.

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