That black folks are a forgiving people when it comes to politicians is well known and documented in the United States. George Wallace was a rabid segregationist in 1960s Alabama, but won 90 percent of the African American vote when he ran for a final term as governor in 1982. When President Clinton was in trouble for the whole Monica Lewinsky thing in the late 1990s, black folks were squarely in his corner. And then there’s Marion Barry, the former D.C. mayor who was caught on videotape smoking crack in 1990, went to jail in 1991 and was subsequently reelected mayor four years later.
But what about black Canadians? Do they have the same reservoir of forgiveness for wayward politicians? Troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford clearly was trying to find out. Video surfaced Sunday of him dancing with the choir of a black church in West Toronto.
Lord knows Ford is in need of redemption. Thanks to his belated admission of crack use (“probably in one of my drunken stupors”), he was stripped of power last month. And the crack stuff was just the tip of the iceberg for a chief executive whose mouth and body have only deepened his woes. But if Ford was looking for a warm embrace from the West Toronto Church of God, he certainly didn’t get it. Not on camera, at least. Look at the distance between Ford and the choir. Perhaps this is proof that the well of forgiveness among black Canadians for a crack-smoking, trash-talking politician who abused the public trust might be dry. Emphasis on might. The similarities with Barry might only go so far.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj