In my original blog (https://openpolicyontario.com/when-zero-tolerance-prevails-very-fast-drivers-three-senators-and-torontos-mayor/), I said that Mr. Ford could win the Toronto election next October if he did just one thing: acknowledge that he is now in a world of zero tolerance and he is being judged according to standards by which everyone else is not judged. He must say that he understands the enforcement regimen that is now in place, agree with it, and pull up his socks according to its standards.
The reason for this is that his case is now very public (enormously so) and that late and begrudged admission to evidence has made (and will make) his story even more public. And as it appears that there is more evidence to come out, his persona will become even more public and better defined as time goes by.
But it appears that Mr. Ford believes that there is no difference between the driver who breaks the law by going 91 km and hour (in a 90 km zone) and the driver who travels at 140 km an hour in the same speed zone. In Mr. Ford’s world, they both broke the law. They haven’t been charged with anything and neither has he.
The public, I believe, understands what Mr. Ford is getting at – they understand that law breaking is law breaking – but we all live by loose informal rules that are not enforced. This is where Mr. Ford is tone deaf and will lose the next election if he continues on his present course.
Mr. Ford is not perfect and neither are the rest of us. But for the record, most of us do not urinate in public places, aggressively threaten to kill people, drink while driving, use 911 as their counselling service, smoke crack cocaine or get “really really inebriated” in public. We also may make special efforts not to do these things if elected mayor of Canada’s largest city.
Mr. Ford will likely lose because the public understands the difference between loose and hard rules requiring zero tolerance and Mr. Ford does not. If I ever got a ticket for travelling 91km an hour in a 90km an hour zone – a clear violation of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and a provincial offence over which I could seek a trial in a provincial court – most everyone would be empathetic with my plight. Drive at 140km an hour in the same zone and I lose any and all empathy.
So just to be clear: Mr. Ford is doing the equivalent of driving at 140 and telling the public that it’s just like you driving at 91. I don’t think anyone is buying it; except just one: Canada’s Conservative party.
Canada’s Conservative party compares Justin Trudeau’s marihuana smoking to Mr. Ford’s illegal mayhem. They want Justin Trudeau to be judged by the same level of enforcement as that which will prevail for Mr. Ford.
If true, then I can only admonish: be careful what you wish for.
The government appointed three Senators who they knew did not reside in the Provinces from which they hailed. These Senators were thrust into an instant dilemma as they knew it would look odd if they did not file expense claims for a second residence. The lack of claims would conclusively prove that they did not live in the provinces they were appointed to represent.
When they made the expense claims, the government went along with it, then tried to hide it and then when it became public, threw the book at them. This is a matter of public record.
By this standard, the Conservative Party’s next news release on law and order should add their own foibles alongside those of Mr. Ford, Justin Trudeau and for good measure, 95% of the adult population of Canada. The other 5% would only include the rare group that has never ever jay walked, never drank half a beer while under age, never exceeded the speed limit and never roll-stopped at a stop sign.
Now try to pass a test on this blog:
- Why would the government appoint Senators from Provinces in which they knew the Senators did not reside and expect them to advertise that fact by refraining from filing claims for expenses that they would necessarily incur if legally resident in the province they were appointed to represent? (Hint: residency rules were not clear and now are)
- Why does Mr. Ford not realize that there is a difference between driving at 91 km in a 90 zone vs. driving at 140? (Hint: because he thinks he is like you and I but isn’t)
- By stripping the mayor of 75% of his powers, is Toronto also stripping the mayoralty of Toronto of 75% of its power? (Hint: There is a difference and if the latter is true, things will get worse but if the former is true, it will be difficult to give the powers back)
- Why does zero tolerance only work well on the big fish and not work well at all on the little fish that were originally targeted by zero tolerance strategies? (Hint: the big fish are in the limelight and little fish aren’t)
- Will the rules surrounding the political structure of Toronto continue to give us ‘Melfords’? (Hint: Even Mr. Miller was an angry man at the end of his two terms so the obvious answer is ‘yes’)
- Will Mr. Ford become an icon for mayhem in high office? (Hint: He is already there)
- Can Mr. Ford win again? (Hint: yes if he stops comparing his mayhem to the transgressions of 95% of the rest of us. Why will he win? The media look really out of control when they go after someone and become more hated than usual. People (a lot of them) who self-identify as ‘taxpayers’ are not worried about Council being hijacked because they don’t think it does anything worthwhile anyways.
- Will Ford win again? (Hint: likely no as he thinks that he is just like everyone else when he’s not)
- Will the media self-examine its very public fall from a balance between reportage and commentary to an all-out no-hold barred attack? (Hint: The media is almost serially incapable of self-examination. Everything they do is right because they judge it to be so. But when a junior reporter breaks a story on Mr. Ford with the opening line of “Just when you thought that the Ford story could not get worse”, it is perhaps possible that the line between reportage and commentary has been breached.
- Will this story go on? (Hint: it’s just started because its societal, legal, political, and international underpinnings are in an emergent state. Intelligent critical analysis here is embryonic)