Did you commute to work or anywhere else today? Did you take the car? If so, did you at any point resemble the clod in this picture?
|Rob Ford on the Gardiner Expressway|
No, of course you didn't. That's because, unlike the mayor of Toronto, you are not a selfish, insensitive jackass with the social acumen of a turnip. Yes, the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, was photographed this morning reading a speech while on his commute into work on the Gardiner Expressway.
|RoFo: a "very busy guy"|
|It's all fun and games until the mayor rear-ends your car|
At a news conference this morning to announce a September Trade Mission to Chicago (which I feel fairly certain will be the subject of a future blog piece), Ford was asked about the photo and had this to say about it:
The photo was posted on Twitter. Told of its existence at an unrelated news conference later in the morning, Ford was unapologetic. “Yeah, probably,” he said flatly. “I’m busy.”
When a reporter followed up by asking whether he reads while driving, he said, “Yeah, probably. Trying to catch up on my work; you know, keep my eyes on the road, but I’m a busy man.”
When the reporter asked whether he doesn’t see a problem with reading on the Gardiner, he said again, “I’m busy.”
“I don’t know what that has to do with the trade mission, but anyways,” he said to conclude his exchange with the reporter. “Ridiculous questions sometimes.”
So, to sum up: Rob Ford was caught reading what appears to be a speech transcript while driving on the Gardiner Expressway this morning ("traffic was moving at about 70 km heading eastbound just by Jameson", according to the person who took the picture) and when he was asked about it saw no issue with this situation because he is a "busy man". (A quick note: couldn't he have caught up on his reading while he was in the hospital last week?) Furthermore, he was upset that anyone would have the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to ask such a question of him when all he wanted to talk about was an upcoming trip to Chicago. How dare anyone ask him such off-topic questions?
For the record, Ford was not asked about this photo by a reporter for the Star; Natalie Johnson of CTV was the one doing the investigative journalism this time so there shouldn't be any of the usual conspiracy theories circulating. Sadly, however, there likely will be such theories as the Globe and Mail reports that the picture and accompanying tweet were deleted at around 12:30 this afternoon and, shortly thereafter, the Twitter account of the person who took the photo completely disappeared. I imagine he was receiving some pretty nasty feedback on his account and was worried about his safety; unfortunately, though, this will likely provide a field day for the right-wing shills of the world to protest that Ford was set up and the photo was a hoax. Which is all well and good, but there's still this one sticky matter:
Ford admitted he reads while he drives and, worse, sees nothing wrong with it.
The press conference admission of guilt was all Ford's doing and cannot be taken back. Not that, apparently, he would ever want to take it back as this peach of a guy thinks he has every right to be reading while barreling down the road at 70 kph during his morning commute, presumably because he is in a giant tank of a vehicle. His sense of entitlement is nothing new to the people of this city, but that still doesn't make it right.
in his Twitter feed, quotes a police spokesman as saying: "You generally need to have committed 3 violations - say, speeding, improper lane change, etc. - before a careless driving charge [is brought about]. Let’s say somebody is reading a book. Their vehicle goes out of control and strikes somebody, or can’t stay in the lanes, constantly going from one lane to another, no signals, a conglomeration of issues. Then you could look at a charge of careless driving." So...Ford can't be charged with careless driving until he actually hits someone, effectively. That's wonderful to know, isn't it? Good thing they don't always feel that way and lucky for Ford he wasn't caught in one of their "blitzes".
The Toronto Police Services, on their Facebook page, later clarified things a little bit and then added what we're all thinking at the end of their post:
Just to clarify the situation with the Mayor "allegedly" reading while driving on the Gardiner Expressway...under the same circumstances, we would not be in position to lay a charge for anyone. The distracted driving legislation does not cover reading paper documents and applies only to electronic devices.
Having said that, if there is evidence that the driving behaviour constituted a specific offence, the driver could be charged. A police officer would have to witness the offence or the person who witnessed the offence could initiate a charge, but only if there was evidence to support a charge.
Some would argue that drinking a coffee, changing the radio station or glancing at a child in the car would be just as distracting, but who amoung[sic] us can't be accused of doing that.
Finally, on behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr Mayor... please get a driver. [This next part has since been removed] It is obvious that you are busy enough to require one and no amount of money you are saving by not having one is worth the life of one of your citizens.
And that's really the heart of it, that third paragraph in particular. I am an excellent driver but I am by no means a saint. I have glanced at my phone while stopped in heavy traffic; hell, I've glanced at it while not stopped, although I won't actually text while moving. I've looked at hand-written directions, checked something on a map that is being shown to me by a passenger, eaten a sandwich, looked to see what artist is currently on the satellite radio, all while in control of a moving car. I don't do a great job of obeying speed limits; I don't always come to a complete stop at a stop sign; I sometimes drive "inappropriately for the conditions". So, while I have never studied a paper while driving at highway speeds, it would nevertheless be somewhat hypocritical of me to call Ford's actions unconscionable on their surface. Hypocritical, that is, if it were not for two very important factors:
1) Ford has no idea that he is doing anything wrong and, therefore, will never change his ways; and
2) I am not the figurehead for the largest city in Canada.
Ford has responsibilities that lie far beyond the simple acts of returning constituents' calls (which, really, should he still be doing?) and showing up at Council meetings. He should be living his life (at the very least, his public life) in such a way that is beyond reproach and, when caught out in something that is not in society's best interests, he should as an absolute minimum show contrition and embarrassment. But he cannot, or will not, do these things and it has begun to get worse because now he doesn't even care enough to lie about his actions in the first place.
At least when he lied he showed that he could differentiate right from wrong just barely enough to know that what he was being accused of was a "bad thing". Now I don't know what the hell he can differentiate. All I know is I believe there are far darker days ahead for Mayor Ignoramus before we're rid of him.
I just he doesn't end up killing one of us first.