Mayor Rob Ford’s intentionally-hollow apology does more harm than good

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks on his weekly radio show in Toronto, Sunday November 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

It was awfully big of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to apologize during his radio program on Sunday, but more telling than the apology itself was what the embattled mayor actually admitted to apologizing for.

Pretty much nothing.

Ford's appearance on his weekly Newstalk 1010 talk show followed reports that Ford would make a significant announcement. It is not clear in hindsight what that announcement was meant to be. He's getting a driver, he thinks Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is out to get him, and it was dumb to get "hammered" at a Danforth street festival earlier this year. That was the entirety of the "announcements" made during the two-hour show.

The rest of the show was focused on his non-apology, but that statement was too intentionally hollow and politically self-serving to be worth much of anything to anyone. Except himself.

[ Related: Mayor Rob Ford looks down field after weekend radio play ]

For posterity, here is the apology:

I am the first one to admit that I am not perfect... I have made mistakes and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes.

I sincerely, sincerely apologize to my family, to the citizens and taxpayers of this city and my colleagues on Toronto city council. Unfortunately, I cannot change the past, I can only move forward and learn from the past.

Read that again and tell me what Ford was apologizing for? Was it for his alleged history of drug abuse? Was it for his actions in a video, the existence of which has been confirmed by Blair himself? Was it for lying about the existence of that video, or any of the almost-endless series of questionable events chronicled in a police drug investigation? Was it for making the City of Toronto a laughingstock? For dividing the city, for dividing city hall? For undermining the office he holds?

Who knows? Near the end the show, a caller finally asked him to explain exactly what he was apologizing for. He feigned exasperation. "I thought I made myself clear," he swooned. Oh, will it ever end?

[ More Brew: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologizes for public drunkenness ]

When cornered, Ford pointed to a couple moments of public drunkenness. He did not address the crack video scandal; he did not apologize for any of it.

It is dishonestly through wordplay. By issuing a vague apology he can later claim he has addressed everything. He can claim that nothing will satisfy some people, specifically those in the media. He can bemoan his fate and play the victim.

This of course plays right into the hands of his supporters, those who have proven they will forgive everything and ignore anything. One caller on Sunday compared Ford's status to the assassination conspiracy of John F. Kennedy. Neither Ford nor his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said anything to dissuade the notion.

These are dangerous divisions Ford intentionally makes. He may hide in the cracks to avoid giving actual answers or honest apologies. But it leaves everything around him chipped and broken, cracked and rotten.

That's what Rob Ford has made Toronto: A city beset by cracks.

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