Rob Ford, we're told, is somewhere in rehab. But his ghost haunts the Ontario Election. John Barber writes that his absence may, for the time being, be a blessing:
Would NDP Leader Andrea Horwath have had the nerve to bring down Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals had Rob Ford not been whisked into guaranteed oblivion mere hours before the budget came down? Attention to any provincial theatrical would have been divided at best as long as Rob Ford remained lurching in the wings, threatening at any moment to swing across the stage scattering cluster bombs of scandal. They are lucky to have it to themselves for the brief period it will take Ford to forgive himself.
But Ford won't be gone for long. The betting is that he'll be back after thirty days to cause headaches for all the contenders:
Exhibit A would be the nasty grilling poor Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak underwent on budget day, a few hours after he cringed through the infamous audio recording of a blotto Ford damning him for daring to tolerate “the ga-ays.” Unfortunately it all happened behind closed doors, during the budget lock-up, so Ontarians will be spared a full airing of the bizarre half-hour scrum in which Hudak persistently refused to condemn Ford for his hating — and reporters persistently refused to pay the slightest attention to the opposition leader’s views on the biggest story out of Queen’s Park in some time.
Likewise, Andrea Horwath wants to steer clear of Ford:
Andrea Horwath has not only declined to condemn the mayor’s many “missteps,” she alone among provincial leaders stood up for Ford when Premier Wynne refused to meet with him after council stripped his powers. When Ford exploded like a beached whale last Wednesday, Horwath tweeted her best wishes. “Taking a break to deal with his health issues takes courage,” she said.
It was only after a mini-storm of protest by progressive voters, who noted that racism, sexism and homophobia are not “health issues,” that Horwath found the nerve to criticize Ford’s “offensive and hurtful” comments.
And the Fords have made no secret of their contempt for Kathleen Wynne. Ford is the bad smell in the back of every meeting room and every press scrum. Ford is the rot hidden in the cellar. The stench he leaves behind refuses to go away.