Canada rarely makes news here in the UK. So, imagine my surprise when Toronto mayor Rob Ford made headlines with his now infamous admission that he smoked crack cocaine… and that he bought illegal drugs in the last year. The bad news keeps accumulating, like a six-car pile-up. The latest? That he was consorting with prostitutes – a charge he vocally denied using language unexpected of a politician – even him.
I expect we’ve all now seen the footage of him telling the world how much ahem he’s got to eat at home as a happily married man. Oh dear. And while I found myself laughing like everyone else at Jon Stewart‘s closing observations on this latest gaffe, I also felt the prick of compassion.
His furious denials of alcohol and drug addiction suggest the opposite is true. His behaviour, as this article argues, is sadly familiar to those of us with experience in this domain. When I look at Rob Ford, I see a man caught in the grip of addiction, turning increasingly to other maladaptive behaviours (courting unhealthy risk) as the disasters inevitably mount.
The Toronto City Council‘s vote of no confidence in the mayor was, it seems to me, a very public intervention. And the mayor’s continuing lurch towards permanent ignominy is a very public slow-motion car crash that many addicts go through in private, sometimes repeatedly, before admitting they have a problem.
Has he hit rock bottom? Each time we think he has, it seems he sinks even further. So, perhaps this will go on a little longer before something finally gives.
Marriage to an alcoholic has given me this unexpected view on this oddly compelling news story (compelling for its voyeurism more than anything else). Compassion – something I rarely managed to muster for my husband in the early years of his addiction – has bloomed in response to a stranger, a politician no less. No doubt, it’s easier when that stranger is also thousands of miles away. That’s one brick for me in the long road I’m building towards compassion.