Rob Ford

Rob Ford's mayoralty quietly comes to end

Rob Ford's mayoralty came to end at midnight, drawing to a close four tumultuous years of political office in Toronto. Mayor-elect John Tory will officially take over tomorrow after an inauguration ceremony at city hall.

At the peak of the crack cocaine scandal, it seemed like Rob Ford's time as mayor was about to come to an explosive end. Surely a politician as controversial and divisive as Ford would be felled by police confirmation that he had smoked drugs on camera. Even if the conflict of interest dismissal hadn't stuck, Bill Blair had surely opened a trapdoor the mayor would be unable to sidestep.

But, somehow, Ford continued to run the gauntlet. Without any legal mechanism for his removal (short of a jail sentence,) the onus was on Ford to quit out of embarrassment, and that just wasn't going to happen. This was a man who, after all, felt it appropriate to be openly mocked on a U.S. late night talk show ostensibly to promote tourism to the city.

Ford clung to his mayoralty for another 13 months after Blair outed him as a drug user. Though stripped of his powers, he continued to blunder ahead, getting "enough to eat at home," libelling Star reporter Daniel Dale, appearing drunk and rambling in Jamaican patois, and reportedly drinking late into the night at a Coquitlam, B.C. pub.

Then there was the shirtless jogger incident, the bizarre episode where Ford's SUV was impounded near the GreenStone rehab facility in Muskoka, and finally, when it seemed the headlines would surely be running short, the cancer diagnosis.

In a statement released on the eve of his move back to city councillor, Ford returned to his favourite talking point: claims of financial savings. "Just four short years ago, City Hall was filled with examples of extravagance, wastefulness, and a general disrespect for both the taxpayers and their hard earned dollars. My administration brought that to an end," he said.

Ford vowed to keep finding efficiencies, promising, without any apparent sense of irony, "accountable and transparent government." (This from a politician who steadfastly refused to release his itinerary and was frequently AWOL.)

If there's one gift the bombastic politician gave to the city, it's a greater awareness of city hall and its municipal function. By being a controversial mayor, Ford likely inspired more activism than if he had quietly got on with his work instead of constantly dabbling in extracurricular activities.

When midnight arrived on Sunday evening and the era of John Tory began, there were no fireworks, no last-minute revelations, just a quiet sense of relief across most of the city.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: BruceK /blogTO Flickr pool.

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