Like most Torontonians, I have been following the Rob Ford story with great interest. While somewhat of a soap-opera, and providing great entertainment, I’d much rather the issue be the subject of a book or movie than be generating international attention on Toronto. Here are some of my thoughts.
1. There is no basis for a criminal charge.
I agree with the decision of the Toronto Police not to charge Ford with possession of crack cocaine. The fact is the evidence as currently known would not support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There are a few reasons for this. For one, the Crown would not be able to particularize many facts necessary to sustain a conviction, specifically time and date. Second, there is no substance in police possession that could be tested and proven to actually be crack cocaine. Third, even if the police were to charge on the basis of the video, the Crown would be forced to proceed by indictment given the offence would have occurred outside the six-month limitation period to proceed by summary conviction. This would be an inefficient use of court resources.
2. The investigation afford to Ford demonstrates inequality to others.
What I find most frustrating is not that no charge was laid, but that many others are not granted the same benefit of a thorough investigation by police. In Ford’s case, I would think the chief made a decision not to lay a charge in consultation with either police lawyers or the Crown. In too many other cases a police officer will just lay a charge and leave it for the Crown to figure out, often some time later, whether it should proceed.
3. Arresting people for addiction solves nothing.
It’s been interesting to see the shifting attitudes of right-wing “tough on crime” supporters when one of their own is in the criminal justice spotlight. Ford demonstrates many of the signs of someone with addiction issues. He needs help, not prosecution. Unfortunately, the police and Crowns have yet to understand this. Instead, addicts are regularly arrested for possession of small amounts of drugs, hauled off to court, and find themselves facing jail time. They are eventually released, without proper treatment, and the cycle continues.
4. Ford should not be running this city in his current state.
If Ford can seek help, come clean about his problems, and find himself democratically elected again, then perhaps he deserves a second chance (although he won’t get my vote). By allowing him to continue right now he just sets a bad example. The leader of a city should be a role-model, and Ford is not one.
This blog post was written by Toronto Criminal Lawyer Adam Goodman. Adam can be reached at 416-477-6793 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.