In the wake of the arrest of Dzhokar Tsarnaev in the United States in the matter of the Boston Marathon Bombings, Tsarnaev's Miranda rights were set
aside so that statements he made in the hospital while under care for a gunshot wound could be used as evidence against him, anonymous officials
confessed to the press on his behalf, to his guilt in the bombings and numerous other evidential details were leaked to the press to bolster the
If the Boston Globe had a special punctuation mark in their type setting repertoire to effect Tsarnaev's execution, I am sure that he would be dead
He has been tried in the press and found guilty. The chance of him ever getting a fair trial in an actual court of law in the United States is
The situation in Toronto contrasts very favorably with the one in Boston. Our hockey team may fold under pressure but our Police Chief, the
redoubtable Bill Blair, does not.
This is the Chief who went public to tell police officers under his command to stop lying in court. This is the Chief who made a video to show his
force what police hooliganism was and to tell them in no uncertain terms that he would not stand for it in officers wearing the uniform of the Toronto
Metropolitan Police Department.
This is the Chief who refuses to dish the alleged dirt on Mayor Rob Ford and is currently experiencing the ire of the Toronto Star, a great newspaper
that seems to be undergoing an identity crisis.
Am I a leader of the Fourth Estate or am I a "gawker" wannabe?
The editorial in today's Star is a classic mixed message. Let's look at it in detail.
Silence isn’t good enough — not on the subject of potential wrong-doing by municipal public officials. Yet silence is all that Toronto Police
Chief Bill Blair is willing to provide.
Silence is the prudent course in these matters. When criminal conduct is in question it is much much better to let the courts deal with the matter.
The last thing Toronto needs is a police chief who meddles in politics.
We don't need a J. Edgar Hoover in Toronto, keeping files on politician's social lives and making timely leaks to the press to influence political
Would the Star like to see a J. Edgar Hoover in Toronto?
Silence on whether police have obtained copies of a video allegedly showing Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack coc aine. Silence on whether raids
targeting a gang of gun-smuggling drug dealers has revealed connections to the mayor’s office. Silence on whether there’s an investigation into
the conduct of people in that office.
It’s telling that Blair has steadfastly refused to exonerate Ford by saying flat out that police have found no incriminating video, and no ties
between the mayor’s office and drug dealers. But neither will the chief confirm any such link.
There are no two ways about it. The chief is not cooperating with the Star.
It has to be one or the other. At least Blair isn’t lying. But he is committing an injustice, either to the mayor or to residents of this city
who are entitled to know of potential wrong-doing by elected officials serving in their name.
Let me give the Star some fatherly advice.
Categorically, without question, no matter who the politician is, there is potential
for wrong doing.
It really does sound as if the Star expects the Chief to be the press spokesman for the department of pre-crime
or potential crime.
The Star wants to publish allegations and "hearsay". They have gone out on a limb and done so but if they want these things backed up by sources and
witnesses they should not be relying on the Police Chief as the default "source".
His job is too closely connected to the actual as opposed to literary administration of justice. In my opinion the police chief should not be a
political player, like a "linebacker" for the press team.
This next bit is priceless and illustrates the Star's identity crisis beautifully.
They sound like one of those nitwit athletes in an interview who starts referring to himself in the third person because the ordinary clown that he is
is so removed in reality from the "football persona" being interviewed.
It's as if OJ appeared on Dr. Phil giving America the textbook chapter and verse on how marital difficulties should be handled.
If police have not obtained copies of the controversial video in raids on the Dixon Rd. tower complex where the footage was reportedly made,
then Blair should say so instead of leaving a cloud to linger unfairly over Ford. If no connections have been unearthed between the mayor’s office
and drug dealers, it’s an outright injustice not to say so.
In the tabloid world that the Star now inhabits, apparently, there are no shades of jurisprudential grey, as the following quote indicates.
Blair’s excuse, that any comment could put his drug gang investigation at risk — even, apparently, a statement putting an innocent mayor in
the clear — is frankly ridiculous.
I don't disagree in principle with what is expressed in the following quote, but I think the Star should defer to the Chief's judgement in the legal
context . . . and
in view of the last words in the paragraph, I ask myself if the Star has now decided to accuse the Chief of playing politics
and covering up illegal activities by the Mayor.
If, on the other hand, a Ford video has been obtained by police, then it’s equally unfair to withhold it from the public. Torontonians have a
right to know when elected officials, paid with their tax dollars and entrusted with civic leadership, have evidently gone astray. When people in
authority possess such information and refuse to disclose it to the public, one way to explain it is through two ugly words: Cover up.
I hope they are not doing this but they have their journalistic necks stuck way out on this issue and I believe they are starting to panic in the
belief that they might not get satisfaction in the form of confirmation of their allegations about the Mayor, even if police do lay charges in the
case under investigation
because the video, if it exists, might not be central to the criminal case and might therefore not even make it to court
as an evidential exhibit.
The next bit is "amateur hour" at the Star in terms of covering legal matters and criminal investigations. They acknowledge that what they want the
Chief to do is not universally, in the legal profession, accepted as proper procedure and then say categorically, his refusal to sail into contested
waters is "wrong'.
I would say it is prudent.
In the criminal context, the Star seems to think that it would be possible to release the video, edited, to remove the faces of other figures possibly
under investigation and to show only the face of Mayor Ford doing something illegal.
The Star seems to be completely oblivious to problems that might arise from doing that.
The only way that video can be released to the public, credibly
, is unedited and complete. If the police have the alleged video and if it shows
any sort of criminal activity, the police are absolutely correct in withholding it until admitted as evidence in a trial.
Any other course of action would be completely irresponsible.
Blair claims his silence is necessary, indeed required by law, and therefore doing otherwise would place “an important prosecution in jeopardy.”
But, as the Star’s Liam Casey reports, three respected criminal lawyers contacted by this newspaper all say Blair could release the controversial
video without breaking any law. Information obtained through wiretaps is sacrosanct, but not some piece of footage allegedly showing Ford sucking on a
Yes, some lawyers may disagree — learned squabbling is, after all, in the nature of the profession. But it’s fair to say that strong legal
arguments exist allowing for release of the video should Blair want to go that route. Therefore, if police do have the video, it’s the chief’s
choice not to reveal it. And if officers don’t possess the footage, it’s Blair’s choice not to absolve Ford of suspicion. Either way, the
chief’s continued silence is wrong.
But eventually we get to the nub of the matter.
He has repeatedly assured the public that all relevant information from the investigation will eventually emerge in “a right way,” in court. But
that’s not necessarily true.
A video showing Ford smoking Lord-knows-what, and allegedly making homophobic and racist comments, may be of no use in criminal court and may not
factor in anyone’s defence or prosecution. But it would have immense value in the court of public opinion — the proper forum in which to judge a
politician’s conduct and fitness for office. What is an election, after all, but the voice of public opinion?
The Star is afraid the alleged video is not going to come out, even if there is a court case involving the people alleged to have been present when it
was allegedly made.
That is where the rubber hits the road for the Star. It appears that law enforcement in Toronto and the administration of justice are being asked to
set aside their normal procedures to accomodate the Star's political agenda vis a vis
I think the Star should cool its jets and wait for the court case. There will be plenty of time to throw mud at the mayor before the next election.
Yet there is no guarantee that people will have the full story on this scandal, even when they go to the polls next year. The chief says he’s
saying nothing in order to avoid damaging his case. But damage is being done, nonetheless, to this city’s reputation and ultimately that of the
Toronto Police Service.
What the Star means by the above paragraph is that there is a possiblity that the slam dunk of a video showing the Mayor consuming an illegal
commodity might not be forthcoming from the current legal processes before the next election.
They are right.
It is clear that the Star wants confirmation of its allegations regarding the Mayor and it wants them before the next election.
It is clear that the Star was thwarted by Mayor Ford's campaign in the last election and that they do not want to be thwarted in getting rid of this
It is also clear that if the Police Chief does not bend to the will of the Toronto Star in this matter, he will be the next one to receive their
undivided critical attention.
When those wielding public power, like Blair, appear to go out of their way to prevent revelations injurious to others in power, like Ford, the public
can’t help but suspect motives beyond the people’s interest. That perception, however unfair, can be caustic to a police service.
Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, down there at the Star, on this issue
Blair needs to clear the air. If there’s no video of Ford allegedly smoking crack, then he should do the right thing and say so.
Children shouldn't play in traffic and Star editorial writers shouldn't be commenting on criminal investigations without making an effort to think
very methodically about the problems detectives face in presenting evidence in court that will stick
How would Blair know, categorically, if such a video DID NOT EXIST?
If police do have such a video in their possession, fairness demands that Blair release it and let all Toronto draw its own conclusions.
Chief Blair should continute to do his job as he has been doing it, with integrity, according to established procedures, which are designed to serve
the administration of real justice in this city.
edit on 21-6-2013 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)
edit on 21-6-2013 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)