Ford situation cries out for appointment of a federal Special Prosecutor
According to my morning paper, both fans and foes of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford are angry. I have an idea that should satisfy both, which may well be a first since Mr. Ford was elected three years ago.
Some of Mayor Ford’s fans think he has been very hard done by, almost from the start, and that the forces of darkness have created a swirl of innuendo designed to undermine the core anti-waste, anti-Miller agenda that Mayor Ford rode in on at the outset of his term. Things took a turn for the worse for all concerned this week, when Metro Police Chief Bill Blair faced the media to answer questions about recently released court documents linking the Mayor to all sorts of unusual behaviour. This from a Marcus Gee column:
Doug Ford also said in a radio interview with host John Oakley that Mr. Blair was “politicking” when he confirmed the existence of the video. The mayor’s lawyer Dennis Morris struck a similar note when he told The Globe’s Jill Mahoney that, “He’s being tried, he’s being convicted, he’s being executed by the chief of police.”
I’m surprised that Mr. Morris didn’t think of it first, but if he believes that the Toronto Police Chief is being unfair to his client, or that the local Crown is somehow biased (despite having not laid charges against the Mayor), he should advocate for the appointment of a federal Special Prosecutor to assess the circumstances of the entire affair. I don’t know the man, but Chief Blair sure looked to be in a difficult position when questions were being hurled at him during a live press conference last Thursday. As much as he works for the “people of Toronto”, the Toronto Police Services Board is appointed by Toronto City Council, and some of its members are also members of the Mayor’s Executive Committee. As a group, they choose the Chief and help decide the Forces’ annual budget.
Which puts Toronto’s top cop in an unenviable position, the closer the evidence trail takes the police force to Mayor Ford himself.
Now that Ontario Premier Wynne has said the Province won’t step in to the mess at City Hall in the absence of “a conviction”, things will continue to be untenable for Chief Blair. The situation lends itself to the appointment of Special Prosecutor, and since drugs are alleged to be involved, it is arguably appropriate for the Federal government to take this next step. The concept of a Special Prosecutor isn’t all that novel, and was last used locally when former AG Michael Bryant was charged; in that case a pro from British Columbia was brought in with universal acclaim. The British Columbia Attorney General also appointed a Special Prosecutor when there was internal disagreement about the constitutionality of laying a polygamy charge in that Province.
As much as it would be unusual for Ottawa to get involved, if the Provincial government won’t unburden Chief Blair, perhaps the Feds have no choice but to do so via a Special Prosecutor. They can definitely cite jurisdiction, they’re proudly on the record as being tough on illicit drugs, those wanting the Mayor to swing will be relieved that fresh eyes are being brought to bear on whatever evidence has been collected to date, and the Ford camp won’t complain about suffering at the hands of their political enemies.
If the air really does need to be cleared, let’s do it. The move would address everyone’s concerns in one fell swoop.
(disclosure: this post, like all blogs, is an Opinion Piece, and as a personal view should not be taken to represent the views of the TPA board, management or the Federal government)