Thursday, December 5, 2013

Innocence is in the Eyes of those who Decide who to Investigate. . . .

Is there anyone out there still naive enough to believe that Rob Ford would be in jail if not for the fact that he is a rich and influential white man? The sad fact is that despite all the talk by Chief Blair about the Toronto Police treating everyone equally and the professional standing of his investigators, it is simply unrealistic to believe that Ford has been treated like anyone else who comes into the surveillance of his force.

As with the release of the last round of court documents, yesterdays revelation are being met in the mainstream media by interviews with lawyers, all of whom assure us that there is nothing in these documents that warrant the arrest of Rob Ford. And you know what? On the face of it, the lawyers are correct. But lawyers deal in convictions, and evidence, and indictments. With the exception of the occasional stand-out, like Clayton Ruby, lawyers are not trained in and seldom engage in political analysis.

To really understand what has happened here we need to look beyond the simple evidence presented in these documents. As disturbing and compelling as these wire-tapes and witness statements are, they probably don't serve as any kind of criminal case against Rob Ford. Though, Ford obviously has important ties to countless criminals, and has engaged in various kinds of criminal behaviour, the demands of criminal indictment and conviction are often high, as they should be.

But here is where the politics come into the equation. The question is not "why wasn't Rob Ford indicted?" Rather, the question is: "Why wasn't Rob Ford investigated?" It is clear to anyone who has even the vaguest experience with police and the law, that if Rob Ford was not a powerful, rich, white man, the events observed by the police would have quickly blossomed into an all out investigation into every aspect of his personal and professional life. Did you notice that all the people whose phones were tapped in this investigation were racialized? Even Sandro Lisi, the whitest guy in indicted in the police investigation has what many people might still refer to as an "ethnic" identity. The one guy that the police didn't really investigate was the guy at the very heart of the entire series of events - and, surprise surprise, he is a rich white guy.

The simple fact is that the Toronto police did just enough investigating to create the appearance of objectivity and fairness, but de facto protected the Mayor from indictment by never actually investigating him. Let us take, as a mental exercise, the idea that, say, Olivia Chow, or even Councillor Cesar Palacio, were mayor and they were caught up in a similar police investigation. I think you would have to be monumentally naive to believe that he or she would not instantly become the subject of an intense personal investigation into every aspect other their lives. Their phones would be tapped, their finances would be investigated, and eventually their offices and their homes would be treated to complete searches.

I think it is pretty clear that it is not lack of evidence or probable cause that has prevented Rob Ford from being indicted. It is the simple fact that the Toronto Police never actually investigated him. If not for his position as a rich, rightwing, wasp, Rob Ford would have been treated like anyone else - he would have been investigated. Here is a guy who the police knew was involved in the use of illicit drugs, whose closest associate appears to have been dealing drugs and strong-arming people in Ford's interests, who has been the subject of numerous domestic disturbance calls, whose various family members have been involved in selling and using drugs, and who has been arrested in a foreign country for drug possession. And yet the police never really investigated him at all. It doesn't pass the smell test folks, and it is further evidence of the basic unfairness or our criminal injustice system.

So the next time some yahoo from so-called "Ford-nation" tells you that Ford has been indicted of anything, and that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, just point out that someone who is never investigated and can curry police favour - can never be proven guilty because he will never be brought up on charges. Only those who the Police are willing to see as criminals will ever be looked at by them as criminals.

(Interestingly enough the same goes for Stephen Harper)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ford is the Hat Trickin' Fishin' Buddy Poster Boy for Mr. Harper's Cons.

Mr. Blair was one of the main beneficiaries of a billion dollar Con handout (aka The Toronto G20).

Do you really think Blair is ready to bite that hand yet?