EDITORIALS

MORONIC MAYORS – Not Exclusive to Toronto

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MAYOR ROB FORD HANGING WITH DRAKE (FB)

“Rob Ford furious with B.C. Police after being handed a jaywalking ticket on Vancouver Trip,” reads a headline in the National Post.

“I am in shock,” Ford told the Toronto Sun.  “I was just walking across the street about 200 feet from my hotel when I was approached by an officer and told I was jaywalking.  I couldn’t believe it.  I said to them ‘Am I under arrest?'”

Ford received the $109 ticket from a female Police Officer for crossing the street contrary to a red pedestrian traffic control device.

“It was for $109 for disobeying a pedestrian sign, ” Ford said.  “I said you have got to be kidding.  I said are you guys serious.”

In typical Rob Ford style he rejects any responsibility for the incident and prefers to believe the Police were out to get him.  “What a waste of tax payers money,” he said.

Fords remarks were eerily similar to a tirade I was subjected to by Mayor Glen Murray when I stopped him in a vehicle operated by his partner in downtown Winnipeg on June 26, 1999.

I was working Bicycle Patrol Unit E151 with Constable Jamie Blunden when I observed a vehicle make an illegal turn.  Even though traffic enforcement was one of my least favourite Policing activities, I accepted the fact these duties formed part of the Bicycle Patrol Unit’s mandate.

When I walked up to the vehicle I politely asked the driver to produce his driver’s licence and registration.  It was at that time I recognized the passenger was none other than Mayor Glen Murray himself.  His presence in the vehicle had little impact on how I intended to perform my duty.  I was out there to enforce the traffic laws and that’s precisely what I intended to do.

There were no extenuating circumstances that merited the use of discretion.

Before I could walk away from the vehicle the Mayor started grilling me regarding the “nuisance tickets we were handing out to downtown shoppers.”  He even went as far to suggest Police traffic enforcement in the downtown area was responsible for the financial woes of retailers like Eaton’s and The Bay.

It was when he suggested I should be doing more meaningful work in light of the Cities crime rate that I really felt he crossed the line.  I admit, even I was shocked by the hostile, condescending tone of the confrontation.

It mattered not.

I was a veteran Police Officer at this point in my career with twelve (12) years service under my belt.  I was not about to be baited into a hostile confrontation with a man I was supposed to salute during official Police functions.

After I handed the driver his offence notice I continued my traffic enforcement duties.  A short while later I received a call from the communication center to immediately report to the Public Safety Building to see the Sergeant in charge.

I had no idea what to expect.

A million scenarios started to run through my mind.  Am I going to get shit for dropping a ticket on the Mayor?  What am I going to do if they ask me to pull the ticket?

As I organized my thoughts I immediately recalled Chief Ewatski had issued a strongly worded directive the previous day instructing all WPS Officers to increase traffic enforcement efforts.  The message was clear, increase ticket output or suffer the consequences.  The timing was impeccable.

By the time I arrived at the Police Station I was ready to go to war.  I was never pulling that ticket and if they told me to they were going to be in for a fight.

When I met with the Sergeant in charge his blood was still boiling.  It seemed the Mayor contacted him immediately after the traffic stop and berated him in much the same fashion as he had berated me.  This guy was a grizzled veteran who didn’t like eating shit any more than I did.

It was time to take the gloves off.

It was time to find out just how big Chief Ewatski’s balls were.

I don’t think I enjoyed writing any other Police report as much as I did the four (4) page document detailing my encounter with the Mayor.  Despite advice from several senior Officer’s to “tone it down,” I decided to take a bold approach;

“I respectfully submit that the Mayor’s attitude and comments to my supervisor and myself were entirely inappropriate and are inexcusable for a man of his office and stature.  I would reiterate that this experience has left me feeling belittled and embarrassed.  I do not feel that I’m out of line when I state I feel the Mayor owes a sincere apology to me and all the members of the Police Service, including the Chief of Police.”

The report received wide support and fuelled great anticipation for the pending war between City Hall and the Chiefs office.

When Ewatski reviewed my report he sent me an email expressing his appreciation.  “I was out-of-town when you had your run in with his Worship.  I have been told that you handled yourself in a most professional manner and I applaud you for this,” he wrote.  Ewatski informed me that Deputy Chief Terry McGregor had eagerly addressed the issue with the Mayor and an apology would be forthcoming.

(I would have paid money to hear that conversation.)

There would be no war.

In October of 1999 I received the apology letter.

In fact, Mayor Murray followed up the letter with an invitation to his office at City Hall for a face to face apology.  It was an act that required a certain amount of courage, humility and respect.  His sincerity was never in doubt.

Now it’s Mayor Rob Fords turn.

Will the crack smoking, alcohol abusing Mayor find a moment of clarity to realize the requirement to obey pedestrian traffic control devices apply to him and every other citizen walking the streets in our great Country?

Will he have the clarity to realize that maybe, just maybe, he put the Police Officer in a bad position by jaywalking in front of her and other law-abiding citizens standing in the vicinity when he left that curb?

Will he have the clarity to realize the Officer may have felt obligated to issue the ticket?

Will he have the clarity to realize the Officer could have risked charges for dereliction of duty for failing to act if a member of the public made a formal complaint for her inaction?

Will he have the clarity to realize he broke the law?

Will Rob Ford ever stop playing the victim game?

Will Rob Ford ever truly start taking responsibility for his actions?

Will Rob Ford take a little hint from former Mayor Glen Murray and take his medicine?

Give us a break Mr Ford.

MAYOR MURRAY APOLOGY LETTER:

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RELATED LINK:

National Post – “Rob Ford furious with BC Police.”

The Toronto Sun – “Mayor Rob Ford embarrassed by BC jaywalking ticket.”

6 Comments

  1. Very true….

    Thanks for commenting….

  2. Nola…

    Those of us living in the West do not paint all Torontonians with the same brush as we do your Mayor…

    It seems he might need to surround himself with a few better advisors….

  3. Thank you Menno…

    Apologies from politicians don’t often come easy unless of course you’re Rob Ford and you step in it every other day.

    I keep my Mayor Glen Murray apology letter on a desk right beside my Chief Keith McCaskill apology letter….they’re kind of like trading cards!

  4. Everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone has the humility and integrity to own up when they do. The failure to accept accountability is equally revealing. We shall know them by their actions, and by their inaction.

  5. Yes! I know allll tooo well. I live with him. Now..now don’t start any unfounded rumours. I’m a Torontonian, and, although I love to know the world is hearing about us, I wish it were for more professionally respectable reasons.
    An e’mail arrived with a series of unbelievable photos of animals trapped in unusual situations; children’s climbers,children’s highchairs,fences, holes in stone walls. The last box said..Ok, they got themselves into these situatins; now how do we get them out…and you know who was the last image.

  6. Good article James. Your experience was very similar to one I had many years ago with then City Councillor Robert Wilson, minus the apology.

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