Mayor Rob Ford's dare to police Chief Bill Blair to arrest him last week sounds tough, but sounds more like.
Mayor Rob Ford’s dare to police Chief Bill Blair to arrest him last week sounds tough, but sounds more like the bluster of someone who’s worried he’s desperately cornered.
Actually, it was at least the second time that Ford “dared” the chief to arrest him. He’s been spinning rhetoric against the police for months ahead of potential charges for his crack-related escapades.
Ford knows full well that if charges come, they’ll take years to get to court. So he’s using the police investigation into the infamous crack video – and his alleged drug dealer’s and staff’s efforts to retrieve it – to full advantage to show that the police are out to get him.
But as Ford’s crack anniversary looms and we head into an election, many wonder if, under the radar, the police really are getting ready to charge him.
I see this is a misplaced hope. But there is one reason why Toronto’s red-faced mayor should think twice before he lets his mouth run off again: there has probably been a wire on him for the last four months. At NOW press time Wednesday Blair announced he has asked OPP to take an oversight role in Toronto police’s probe of Ford.
At the risk of being accused of carrying water for the police, let me say first that as time goes on it’s increasingly likely that the police will never charge Ford.
A criminal investigation is like cake. It gets stale. This may sound like I’m trying to be clever, but it’s true.
Right off the bat, it’s a sure thing that Ford will never get charged for the crack he smoked, or for the marijuana or, sorry to say, any alleged drinking and driving. They’re in the past, and they’ll stay there.
Eyewitnesses made statements under the threat of criminal charges if they lied. But there are time limitations (six months for some charges) and other requirements (e.g., you need the victim’s cooperation) that apply in court.
Jailhouse witnesses are no more likely to turn now than they were last summer, and are more likely to be disbelieved.
Ford’s alleged drug dealer, Sandro Lisi, is not going to testify against his good friend. The mayor’s latest drunken escapade at the Steak Queen restaurant prove that, if nothing else.
Last year a mad search for the crack video that led to extortion charges against Lisi, a cloud of suspicion over the mayor’s office, a shooting in a Rexdale apartment building and a shakedown a few days later brought us no closer to a charge against the mayor. There’s nothing to say that Ford ordered Lisi to do what was necessary to get that video.
The one caveat – or last vestige of hope, depending on your perspective – is that the police were in a good position to get a wire on Ford. This isn’t the United States. There are actually some strong barriers to putting a wire on someone here, thank god. But sometime around October 29 the police were in a good position to get over them.
By then they had Ford on video smoking crack and enough evidence to charge Lisi with extortion, but the mayor had eluded their grasp. Maybe for good reason. Maybe, despite all of Ford’s criminal ways, Lisi had acted on his own. But the cops could now get a wire on the mayor if they wanted to. Hard to believe they passed that up.
Any charges, I think, will depend on a wire alone. Witnesses against a person like Ford can’t take you far. The police need a smoking gun.
One thing is for sure, though. Political foes who hope Ford’s downfall will come at the hands of the police are relying on a narrative that could ultimately benefit the mayor.
In the meantime, voters and candidates know all they need to about how unfit he is for office. His conduct, as much as what to do about rapid transit in Toronto, is an issue facing this city.
If candidates running for mayor treat Ford with kid gloves, they’re missing an opportunity to connect with voters. It would also show that his bullying worked.
Daniel Stein is a criminal lawyer.