TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford returns to city hall Monday after an almost two month stint in rehab.
While supporters of the mayor express optimism at the return of a rested, rejuvenated Ford, just as many in Toronto are skeptical and are questioning whether any change is genuine or just phony contrition.
As a recovered addict himself, Drew Walton, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Addictions, says cynicism should be expected.
“Rob Ford is no different from any other person that broke some rules, let a few people down, and he’s going to have to earn their trust back,” he said.
Walton says winning the public’s trust will be a tough fight for the controversial mayor, considering he vehemently denied using crack cocaine before admitting to drug use in November.
After spending most of May and June in a rehab facility, Ford comes back to a high-pressure situation where worldwide media attention, long hours, heavy scrutiny and competition are part of his job -it’s a lot of stress.
Walton said stress is always a potential trigger for a relapse.
“Addiction, by nature, is usually brought on by underlying issues. Whether that’s depression, anxiety, self-esteem, having trouble coping with the pressures maybe of being in public office,” he said.
“For an individual who’s going into treatment to deal with a substance abuse issue, to come right back out into probably one of the more stressful jobs I could think of, absolutely he’s putting himself at risk.”
But if he sticks to his recovery, his return is a chance to put many of the slip-ups and scandals behind him.
“He’s got to demonstrate that he has done the hard work, that he has dealt with his issues, and that now he’s going to move forward as a responsible and credible figure for re-election,” Bob Reid of Veritas Communications said.
And as for any faux-contrition, Reid says “people have pretty good BS detectors.”
“If it’s for real, if it’s genuine, people will know,” he said. “If it’s not, they will also know.”
The mayor will address the public from his office on Monday afternoon. He also plans to meet with city councillors in private in hopes of turning the page.