Who’s the boss?

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

From time to time we get a comment from a reader, reminding us we are a national magazine and we need content from all of Canada. Believe me, we know this, and we make every effort to focus outside Ontario. Unfortunately, Ontario is the seat of the federal government and the focus of the most economic activity. Whether we like it or not, Ontario demands attention.

However, I have a proposal. Why doesn’t Calgary take Rob Ford? One cannot calculate the problems this would solve. For Ontario.

Go ahead. Tell me you never heard of Toronto’s crack-smoking, tree-pissing, drunken-ranting mayor. If you do, you have been living with your head in a box. For the last two weeks I have been traveling in China and Russia, and there, as with in the United States, as soon as people find out you’re from Canada, they ask if you know about Rob Ford. If you can imagine, the conversation starts with whether you’re from Canada, then to Ontario, then to the GTA in a progression that ends with the inference he sleeps in your guest room every second Tuesday on the way home.

He doesn’t. I never met the guy. However, the situation is showing a light into a darkness in Ontario that really concerns me, and it is not about Rob Ford.

Let’s back up just a bit. I have commented on Ford before. My position before the infamous video of him smoking crack became available was that you cannot convict a man in a free society on the weight of the accusations of his enemies. I said at the time if he could be proved to have smoke crack, he should resign.

Well, the video surfaced, and it’s hard to argue he didn’t do it. So my position remains; he should resign.

However, being Rob Ford, he won’t. This presents a legal dilemma. For one thing, there is nothing in Toronto’s or Ontario’s law that can make Ford resign under these circumstances. He has not been charged and he has not been convicted.

A couple of other facts come into play. First, true or not, Ford says he smoked it in a drunken blackout. Not a high recommendation for a mayor, but, if you look at it, it is plausible and there actually is a difference between smoking it once in a blackout and smoking it as a matter of life. God knows Canada has done its job in blurring the lines between acceptable and unacceptable drug use. We have turned Manitoba into one of the marijuana production capitals of the world.

Another problem for me is that Winston Churchill is probably my most-admired role model among mortals. Anybody that has read of Churchill, however, knows he drank more than slightly to excess. Compared to Churchill, Ford, as a booze hound, is a piker.

Finally, I am a big fan of the rule of law, and there stands (or should I say weaves) Ford, accused but not charged, the daily target of political enemies that, frankly have a record of stopping at nothing to achieve their agenda. This gives Torontonians the unhappy prospect of living with a drunk or being out on the street at the behest of the parties they have electorally repudiated. This makes Toronto the first city in history to be qualified as an active member of Al-Anon.

Several weeks ago, after months of threats and accusations, Toronto Police Services announced it was turning over its unfruitful investigation of Ford to the Ontario Provincial Police. Last Thursday, the OPP declared it was suspending its investigation of Ford for lack of evidence.

In a shocking move, the Toronto Police said, in essence, “Doesn’t matter. Guilty.” and announced its intention to move forward with its investigation, despite offering no indication of new evidence.

Like me, the Toronto Police seem to honour the rule of law. Unlike me, the Toronto Police only recognize the rule of law when it’s them.

One of the many ways this becomes very sticky is that the police have wide-ranging authority within the scope of an investigation. This authority extends to phone conversations, expense records, donations, associates, travel, speeches, the activities of associates and so on. As citizens, we trust the power of the investigation is controlled and supervised.

However, when the OPP says a further investigation is not warranted and the police say it is, the question of supervision and control is a legitimate one. If not the OPP and its own supervisors, then who?

Well, we know it’s not the mayor.

What if the supervisory authority in this case is actually the union? It has been clear enough that the Toronto police have a conflict of interests in investigating this mayor. They don’t like him. In fact, they are political opponents, as well as natural opponents in such natural mayor/cop interactions as hiring, promotion, firing, wages, benefits, etc.

When we look south, we see the U.S. president’s administration openly targeting who they see as enemies of the administration. The examples are many, but just the IRS scandal is sufficient. It seems most people, including many Democrats, are horrified, but they stand there with their mouths agape as if there is nothing that can be done.

This kind of thing has been done, however, and one only need look further south – to Venezuela, for example – to see the way it evolves. Police states use the power of the law to subordinate the citizens, not to protect them.

I don’t want to overstate my case, here. I don’t see the Toronto police taking over Canada. Apparently, neither does the OPP. However, this open break between the Toronto and the provincial police is significant. It has to be. And for myself, I would like to see it reported on in the civil press and investigated by the federal government. Something is not right.

In any conflict, it takes pressure to open a fracture line. Ford provided the pressure, and for that I think we can thank him.

As a reward, we can pay his moving costs to Calgary. Alberta just lost a premier due to political in-fighting. Ford could feel right at home.

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