Latest Rob Ford fiasco nothing new

The article below ran during the summer, following what at the time had been yet another Rob Ford folly. The heat has turned up exponentially since then, after police confirmed they possess a copy of the video – allegedly showing Ford drunk, uttering racist and homophobic comments and smoking crack – first reported on by U.S. website Gawker, followed by the Toronto Star.

Countless voices have called for Ford to take time out from his post as mayor and seek help for his problems, but he refuses. That his substance abuse problem is playing out in public may be a service to many as we witness this social illness in its many aspects, from the way it affects everyone who comes in contact with such troubled individuals to the way the condition left untreated afflicts such individuals.

Thursday August 15 2013     Drink and Drunk, Yes, that’s me name…

Should we be grateful that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford spared Toronto’s Caribbean carnival parade the distraction of showing up inebriated from “a couple beers”? With its own image problems, at least that wasn’t a part of this year’s carnival event.

Apparently, Ford was found wandering the streets on the weekend and, having been scheduled to make an official appearance at the Taste of the Danforth Greek festival, ended up there but not before being caught on video looking and sounding like a man under the influence. “Slurring” is the way news reports describe him.

Ah, the modern world’s ubiquitous video recorder.

After the fact, the Ford brothers took to their usual game of defence, also known as their regularly scheduled Sunday radio program, to deny the seriousness of the mayor’s activities. There’s a name for that: it is called minimizing.

If you are a Ford supporter, or you are the kind of person who feels that Ford is being bullied by news media (Toronto Star, CBC, Globe and Mail, Huffington Post, Macleans, The Chronicle Herald, The Daily Show, Kimmel, etc.) then you will likely have sympathy for this beleaguered individual.

It is hard to watch.

In many businesses, certainly in government-run organizations, when an employee is exhibiting behavior related to substance abuse, he or she is called into the supervisor’s office and presented with the option of going through the employee assistance program (EAP). He is provided the means to receive treatment or face being let go if his behavior does not change.

To say that you were just letting your hair down and having a few while you are supposed to actually be on the job is a sure sign of problems. There are people who show up to work intoxicated, but there are consequences, sooner or later.

So is there an exception if you are the mayor of the largest city in this country? Is it then okay to show up to work under the influence?

There seem to be many exceptions for becoming mayor of Toronto. You can become mayor even if you only have high school level education as in the case of Mel Lastman, or if you are not a university graduate. In Ford’s case, he left Carlton University after his first year there. Imagine the frustration of young people today who are required to have a university degree for even entry-level service jobs. You will also likely need one to apply for a job in the mayor’s office.

But, if you just can’t be bothered with that costly endeavor, then why not just run for the office of mayor? Character references are also not required.

Many of us have sympathy for people with substance abuse issues. But it becomes harder and harder to do so when the writing is on the wall and the person just keeps ramming into the wall instead of reading the writing.  Rehab professionals helping individuals with substance dependency to recover advise that until the individual ‘hits bottom’ he will have little if any motivation to begin to get well.

We may want him to get well, but he has to get on side. Those on the outside watching the train wreck sense that can’t happen soon enough.

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Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at


Diabetes is a major health concern

Here is the lead-in for my September 26 column in Share newspaper:

The name Slinger Francisco might not be familiar to many, but there is hardly a person of Caribbean origin who doesn’t know Francisco by his stage name, the Mighty Sparrow. Clever and engaging lyrics and unique nuances of double entendre earned Sparrow the title of the undisputed Calypso King of the World with eight Carnival Road March titles in Trinidad and Tobago and 11 Calypso Monarch titles. You only have to hear the screams from women in the audience during a Sparrow performance to know the genius of his talent.

It wouldn’t be possible to travel into the world of calypso music without taking in some of the Mighty Sparrow’s gems – “Ten to One is Murder”, “Dan is the Man”, “Drunk and Disorderly”, “Melda (Obeah Wedding)”, “Mae, Mae”, and on and on.

In recent weeks, Sparrow, 78, has been listening to his own music along with other favourites from his hospital bed in a New York hospital. A long time diabetic, he had fallen into a diabetic coma two weeks ago. A great deal of prayer went toward his recovery. The good news from his family is that he is now out of the coma and responsive.

We hear an awful lot about the deadly diseases that claim lives daily worldwide. Cancer is one of note, but among the African population diabetes has a tremendous hold.

Here is the url for my column in the September 26 issue of Share newspaper.

Share is Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper and is now in its 36th year of publication.

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Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at