At this point, I doubt it's in any way controversial for me to say that Rob Ford, the Mayor of Toronto, is a national embarrassment. Many prominent Canadians, along with thousands on social media and in person, have called on the crack-using Mayor to resign his office.
But he won't.
Having the Mayor, and by some extension the largest city in Canada, turned into an international spectacle is an enraging, depressing situation.
But if we were better prepared -- it could have been a chance to show historic civic engagement.
Anyone who is reasonable and serious about politics knows that Rob Ford should not continue to be Mayor of Toronto, even with his office having lost most of its powers. But, due to Ford's stubbornness, there's nothing we can do.
If there had been legislation on the books to allow a recall petition and vote, Rob Ford could have been removed from office before becoming the biggest national joke Canada will hopefully ever have.
Here's how it could have looked.
Rob Ford acts generally like a buffoon.
Citizens who dislike him can gather signatures on a petition to have him removed, but unless they gather 15% of the total electorate within a given time frame, no recall vote will proceed.
Gawker has a video of Rob Ford doing crack.
Citizens gather signatures. Maybe enough to remove Ford, maybe not enough.
Rob Ford reveals he used crack cocaine.
Citizens submit a petition to the appropriate body to have a recall vote for Rob Ford within a timely manner.
Rob Ford is removed and a by-election for Mayor is scheduled, or a Mayor is appointed, or something.
And that would have saved Canada much embarrassment.
An important feature of my extremely vague proposal on recall legislation is to make the initial stages onerous. Often, the best governments are required to make unpopular decisions for their constituents -- and these decisions are often the right calls. Making the initial stages of recall onerous allows for minimal disruption in governing, save for ridiculous crack-smoking elected officials.