This morning, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told City Councilors that he's purchased illegal drugs in the past two years, and pointed out that "We have all made mistakes. Unfortunately, I'm in a position to have mine exposed."
Here’s a weird side note to the whole Rob Ford story. Years ago, Ford gave an interview to a Canadian student named Tyson Asher working on a mock article for a homework assignment. Asher asked city politicians about their views on a proposal to build safe injection sites for drug users. The only politician to call back was Rob Ford, who at the time was just a City Councilor.
Asher later published the interview in a Toronto zine called Turd Magazine. I read it last week and thought it was an interesting time-capsule, and emailed to confirm that it was, in fact, real. Asher sent me the audio this morning.
What’s striking is how emphatically anti-drug Ford is. He repeatedly points to his firsthand experience of watching family members struggle with hard drugs.
When I started reading the transcript, I expected to feel snarky contentment about Ford’s hypocrisy - condemning hard drugs, and then later using hard drugs. I felt a little sadder than I expected to. Ford sounds like someone who’s genuinely horrified by the damage that drugs like crack and heroin can do, and unaware that he’ll be using within a few years. (Although, who knows. Maybe Ford was already using back then.)
There’s audio of most of the interview above, and a partial transcript below. You can find the full transcript in the original Turd Magazine article.
TURD: Okay, so I wanted to talk to you a bit about the possibility of a supervised consumption site in Toronto. Would you be in favor of it?
FORD: No way.
TURD: How come?
FORD: Well, number one, it’s illegal. If you’re doing heroin or smoking crack, that’s illegal. So you’re gonna have drug dealers hanging around those sites. I don’t believe that we should be condoning that sort of behavior. It’s going to depreciate the value of everyone’s property around the site and … it’s illegal. You’re basically slapping the police in the face when you’re saying, “Okay, it’s illegal. The criminal code of Canada says it’s illegal, but hold on a second, we’re gonna let people shoot up and smoke crack in a safe environment.”
FORD: Aren’t they gonna have it in their possession when they’re walking in the streets or the front doors? Yes, so then it’s illegal. So they should be arrested because the police are gonna know they have it on them. So, um.. yeah. I don’t agree with that whatsoever.
TURD: Okay. I’ve heard some people tell me that they think of it more as a measure to keep it contained in a way from the communities. What would you say to that?
FORD: I don’t buy that one for a minute. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen people high on heroin or crack cocaine, but I have, and I’ve experienced it firsthand through family members and it’s not a good sight.
FORD: You’re not gonna be able to control someone after they’ve smoked crack or shot up on heroin. You can’t sit here and try to lecture someone when they’re flying high. What are you gonna do next, when they need their next hit? They’re gonna go out, do something, they could rob people, they could do anything to get that next hit. So, y’know, if they’re gonna have these safe injection sites, they may as well give them the heroin and the crack cocaine too, because once they start they’re not gonna stop. I don’t believe you’re gonna have everyone in one area doing it. I don’t buy that for a second.