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The Ford phenomenon is unending.
Francis Mariani

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News has just broken that Rob Ford is “ready to take a break” from his election campaign to focus on addressing his issues with substance abuse.

This has been the biggest surprise from any Toronto mayoral campaign so far. Although the news is still fresh, the media will soon dissect its implications well beyond its shelf life. So, before you’re overwhelmed with hundreds of opinion pieces from your favourite news outlet about how this is “groundbreaking,” “insignificant,” or a “game-changer,” I’d like to make an important comment on the matter.

Rob Ford has been the target of intense scrutiny for…well, ever. After a video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack-cocaine surfaced online, he became an international celebrity. Since then, it’s been a political tailspin for Ford. He has been recorded on numerous occasions (usually during one of his now infamous drunken stupors) performing violent and humiliating rants that have done nothing but hurt his—and the city of Toronto’s—reputation.

Recent events in Ford’s career have been comedy gold for late night television. Heck, Ford has been comedy gold for our publication. He’s also been political fodder for his opponents. He should certainly be held responsible for his actions. Ford warrants the criticism he receives.  People have the right to voice their discontent with elected officials. As a public figure, he has made horrible decisions, and there is no denying it.

I’d now like to take a page out of Craig Ferguson’s book—a man I have great respect for.

Rob Ford has embarrassed both himself and the people he represents. We have criticized his track record as a politician, and we have put a spotlight on his personal life and the way it compromises his job as mayor.

But we also need to grasp that he has finally decided to get help. After months of denying that he has a serious affliction, he has come to the realization that he is compromising his health and his career.

Thus far, this Toronto mayoral race has been the strangest in Canadian history. In a competition between a dominatrix, a pothead, a careless photo opportunist, a painfully unfunny attack ad launcher, and someone who is boldly declaring “war on congestion” among others, Rob Ford seems to have made one of the most rational decisions during this campaign so far. It may not be much, but it’s something.

Controversies and commentaries are bound to arise over the course of such a high-stakes mayoral race.  Rob Ford is not the only candidate making headlines.  Recently, Olivia Chow was caught in controversy after her photo-op with the homophobic, racist, and sexist Iron Sheik. You would think that she had previously seen his crudely written anecdotes (“crudely” is putting it lightly), but she either didn’t know, or didn’t care.

John Tory, who has called for a serious discussion on Toronto’s transit and finances, has resorted to a cringe-worthy “Twister Chow” advertisement to attack his opponent. (Maybe cringe-worthy is putting it lightly as well. Seriously, what the hell? Dane Cook is funnier than you.)

The rest of the candidates, as far behind in the polls they may be, have also made some questionable moves during their campaign. Dominatrix, teenager, and marijuana enthusiast aside, of course. Their whole candidacy is bizarre in and of itself.

Let me be clear, I’m not a Rob Ford supporter, far from it. People will continue to condemn Mayor Ford for both legitimate and derogatory reasons. The True North Times will continue to address Canadian politics with unabashed humour.  But it must be said that Rob Ford is in no condition to continue to serve as the Mayor of Toronto, and the fact that he acknowledges this fact is laudable, not laughable.

Rob Ford is admitting he has a problem, and he is seeking help. We need to acknowledge this statement. Over the years, he has put himself, his loved ones, his constituents, his colleagues, and the Canadian people through quite an ordeal, but he is now taking the first step in dealing with his problems. Let’s not kick him while he’s down.

The poor excuse for a campaign in Toronto will continue, with or without Ford. His record will—and should be—assessed by the other candidates. But, there’s a fine line between criticism and insult.

As Malcolm Tucker would say, “they need to walk the fucking line.”