If there's one thing to move on from, it's how he shaped the discourse at city hall.
That video went public earlier today. The video everyone with even a passing acceptance of reality knew existed. When extortion charges against former Ford associate Sandro Lisi (due to his alleged attempts to retrieve a missing phone and the incriminating video) were dropped, the court-ordered publication ban on the release of the video was lifted, and City Hall watchers gawked.
It felt like watching some ancient artifact from another era. No longer relevant. The man at the centre of it is now dead. Now the phantoms of the movement he once boasted represent nothing more than politically evoked spectres.
There’s nothing satisfying with seeing the video. The gotcha moment has long since passed. This was someone in crisis, deep, deep in the throes of addiction, precipitating a governance crisis in a city he was elected, but wholly unfit, to lead.
This unsuitability to hold such an important public position had nothing to do with the personal problems or demons on display in the video. It was what he stood for that threatens to do the most lasting damage to Toronto.
Yes, we were embarrassed on an international level, the butt of jokes by comedians and news anchors the world over. Such attention rarely lasts. Mel Lastman? Who the hell is that?!
Ultimately though, the video is nothing more than a footnote. A historic curiosity. A morning after walk of shame.
None of this, however, caused TTC service to be cut. Or piled up even more unfunded capital projects. Or poisoned the well of revenue generation outside of user fees for the most vulnerable residents of this city. Or turned our transit expansion debate to shit.
That is the lasting legacy Toronto has to contend with, and it’s not seen in this video. The curtain can now be drawn on that sideshow. Nothing more to see here.
Repairing a slightly sullied reputation due to outlandishly inappropriate behaviour by an elected official is easy. Time will take care of that for us. Contending with the damaging policies and warped discourse left behind in the wreckage is far more important.
Comforting ourselves in the knowledge that we’ll never see our current mayor in a compromising video does nothing to reverse the damaging policies inflicted on the city by the previous administration. Worse, it provides cover for this administration to pursue the same agenda. Cuts to public transit. Further unfunded capital project accumulation. More talk of spending problems rather than revenue problems. One team’s gravy-train-stopping is another team’s finding efficiencies.
Yes, the crack video represents an unfortunate period of time for this city. Honestly though, the toll is borne by one man and his family. The rest of us can put the behaviour and addiction in the rearview mirror and move on.
That means assessing this mayor, his administration, and his policy decisions. “At least he’s not that mayor” is no longer a valid reaction, if it ever was a sufficient standard. With the infamous crack video now posted up on YouTube for the entire world to see, this city can stop rehashing the recent past, comparing notes and making choices based on the easy rationalization that it could be worse. Yes. Yes, it could be worse. Obviously. But how be we start talking about making things better, and leave Ford’s policies behind too?