The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Canadian regime roiled by provincial scandal, sparking fears of instability

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The scandal over Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been covered extensively in the United States. But, to continue a theme we've used previously on Canada stories (borrowed from Slate's Joshua Keating), how would the American media write about this if Ford were from almost any other country? Here, then, is a satirical take on the story you might be reading if Ford were from China or Afghanistan. To reiterate: Satire.

TORONTO – A powerful Canadian official has become entrenched in scandal after admitting to using crack cocaine, a taboo in this socially conservative society. In a country where dissent is limited by traditional mores, the transgression has sparked rare public outrage and raised concerns about the stability of the Canadian regime.

The official, Rob Ford, reigns over the restive border town of Toronto, a multi-ethnic hotbed known for its bustling markets and history of violent conflict.

Though long known for an ostentatious lifestyle, Ford had entrenched power by championing populist ideals that are seen as a direct challenge to the central government planners in Ottawa. Analysts who study the opaque Canadian political system warned that Ottawa may seize the opportunity to finally move against the weakened Ford. Though fears of a military coup remain low, it is still unknown how his allies within the regime will respond should the scandal spread.

In what many are taking as a sign of Ford's impending fall from power, the normally restrained Canadian state media are now openly covering the political scandal and even showing some signs of criticizing the now-besieged official.

Canada's political system is a complex and often inscrutable web of legislative bodies, executive offices and deeply entrenched local officials like Ford. Though it is nominally democratic, analysts warn that elections here can be "volatile."

The country's government is officially overseen by an ancient monarchy located thousands of miles away. The system's contradictions are a reminder that, though colonialism ended long ago in most of the world, this colony has yet to fully throw off its European overlords.

Worsening fears of instability, Toronto is mere hours from the strife-torn province of Quebec, which has been marked by decades of political unrest and separatist movements.

Though Toronto's streets remained quiet on Wednesday, a palpable sense of tension and uncertainty hung in the air. An American Embassy official here declined to comment but urged all parties to exhibit restraint and respect for the rule of law. In Washington, Pentagon planners were said to be preparing for a possible military intervention should political instability spread to Canada's oil-producing regions.