The video of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack leaked Thursday, three years after a still from the video first surfaced. Now, the public can see the full video — posted by the Toronto Star — that scandalized Ford's mayoral tenure.
Ford eventually admitted to smoking crack in "one of my drunken stupors," an admission which set off a series of scandals related to claims of his illicit drug use.
In 2014 the mayor admitted to having a problem with drug abuse — saying, when asked if he had problems with alcohol, weed or harder drugs, "You name it, I pretty well covered it." He checked into a rehab center that same year. In 2015, Ford told radio show host Bill Carroll he "was snorting a lot of cocaine," and "woke up on park benches some mornings."
Ford died in March from liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, and the newly released footage provides something of a moral quandary: To watch the video may be considered disrespectful of the dead — but it's also a choice to bear witness to the hypocrisy of an elected official.
The mayor of Toronto received no legal punishment for his actions, despite the Toronto police reportedly having knowledge of the video while Ford was in rehab.
Here's why that's a problem: The same year the world learned the truth about Ford, Canadian police reportedly dealt with a marijuana possession incident every nine minutes, according to the CBC. First-time offenders for marijuana possession may face a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail, or both, according to the Canadian Bar Association.
Under Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, possession of Schedule 1 drugs — including crack cocaine — can carry up to seven years in prison.
When the video came to light, Ford was never even taken into custody.
As ordinary Canadian citizens were arrested and sentenced to jail time for drug-related offenses, Ford — who throughout his career supported criminalizing drug users — insisted he was "only human." He was never forcibly removed from his job, nor was he prevented from holding government office after his mayoral tenure ended. At the time of his death, Ford was sitting on the City Council.
The hypocrisy of Ford's crack use mimics a line of inequality present in the U.S., too: that minority groups are disproportionately targeted for drug-related offenses, while the privileged and powerful are more immune.
A 2011 survey found white Americans are more likely than black Americans to have used certain illicit drugs, including cocaine — yet black Americans are much more likely to get prison time for drug-related crimes, the Huffington Post reported.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, blacks are up to eight times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana.
Sure, watching the video, or sharing the video, might be disrespectful. But keep in mind that when the video was made, Ford was on the team that locked people up — for doing exactly what he'd been doing for years.