Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Rob Ford and "Private Time"

Robyn Doolittle was the guest on Alberta At Noon on CBC today, and the discussion naturally revolved around Rob Ford.

Recently, Rob Ford has turned up in Vancouver - intoxicated apparently - and in nightclubs in Toronto.  When he has been accused of being intoxicated, he has tried to dodge behind the veil of "well, it's my personal time, I can do what I like" argument.

I can appreciate that Mr. Ford has a desire for "personal time", and to be free to do as he wishes in that time.  However, when you are a public figure, the reality is a little different.

From a business perspective, Ford is effectively the CEO of a $9 billion-a-year corporation.  Anytime he is out in public, he represents that corporation - even if that is doing something as mundane as buying a bottle of milk at the corner store.  You never know when you are going to encounter a prospective client.

Looking a little further, Mr. Ford is a politician.  He is a duly elected public official.  As such, he should be quite familiar with the campaign trail, and the equally brutal fact that he is even more visible to the public as a result of both his campaigning and his distinctive appearance.  No matter what he does, when he steps outside of his home, Mr. Ford is undeniably subject to observation by everybody who walks past him.

Is Mr. Ford free to do as he wishes when he isn't at work?  Yes, he absolutely is.  However, he should also recognize that he is also very much in the public eye anytime he leaves his home.  If he is photographed in the company of known drug dealers, or drunk in a nightclub, that really is his lookout.

The public, however, may see it a little differently.  If they see Mr. Ford "out on the town", and he appears intoxicated, they are similarly free to make their own judgments of the situation.  If it comes out in the news that Mr. Ford is consorting with known criminals, the public has a right to know this and make their own determination about what the implications are.  In today's world of smartphones, everybody has a camera at hand, and Twitter can be used to broadcast what Rob Ford is up to faster than he can inhale a puff from a crack pipe.  Private time simply isn't an option for him except in the privacy of his own home.

The issue that Rob Ford has to face is not merely that he drinks to excess, or has used narcotics.  (Both represent personal problems that he needs to deal with)  No, the bigger problem that he has to face is that he has lied to the public about his activities and actions.  In doing so, he has impugned his own credibility. 

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