TORONTO – A detailed police description of the alleged crack video and the characterization of Rob Ford’s meetings “indicative to that of drug trafficking” are the latest allegations involving Toronto’s mayor to be released to the public.
But still no charges from police.
“I think the police are being exceedingly cautious before they lay a charge as they don’t want to be accused of any sort of political interference,” said criminal lawyer Jonathan Rosenthal, who’s been following the case.
“I think they’re giving him every benefit of the doubt—in fact he’s probably being given more benefits of the doubt than most people.”
But there may be another reason police didn’t arrest the mayor after allegedly witnessing behaviour indicating drug trafficking, according to former Toronto police officer and Co-CEO of Investigative Solutions Dave Perry.
“The fact that he wasn’t arrested in those circumstances that we’ve had described tells me that there was something more important that the police were after,” said Perry. “It’s probably not the fact that he was behaving in a way that’s indicative of drug trafficking … but if the scope of the investigation was much broader, they wouldn’t want to jeopardize the project for that particular piece.”
“I would suspect there was a much bigger end game.”
Rosenthal believes the latest allegations—none of which have been proven in court—show that Ford is a “primary subject” of the investigation, and he suggests the drug trafficking allegation stems from surveillance of Ford and his friend Sandro Lisi, who faces drug-related and extortion charges.
“The behaviour they’ve exhibited is very similar to other drug dealers,” he said. “I think it’s rather odd for the mayor of a major municipality to be meeting a someone like Mr. Lisi in a parking lot where documents are left in his car.”
Rosenthal predicts charges will be laid against Ford eventually, but can’t say definitively what they may be.
“What’s clear is that the investigation—and this is a very serious investigation involving drugs and guns—and I think certainly the first time in Toronto’s history that you have an active police investigation the same time you have an active mayoral campaign.”
So amid Ford’s own admissions he may have driven after drinking, multiple videos showing public intoxication and now the detailed description of the infamous crack video, at what point are police obliged to charge a man whose alleged behaviour could put public safety at risk?
Perry said Ford’s own statements don’t count as evidence, and showing a video in court also wouldn’t be enough for a conviction.
“Not only are [police] not obligated, they absolutely couldn’t charge him for something he’s done for which they have no evidence of,” he said. “The fact that he [may have] admitted publicly…to drinking and driving is not evidence.”
He added having drug use on video and proving what it is in a court of law are two separate things.
“To prove it, they would need the crack pipe, they would need at least some crack residue, they would need him with the pipe,” if the allegations were true, he said.
Rosenthal said police have “great discretion” as to when to make an arrest, but is confident that had Ford been caught driving while intoxicated, the police would’ve taken the mayor into custody.
“To arrest him at some point before their investigation is complete, when it could jeopardize the investigation, I think you have to trust the police that they’ll act when they think it’s appropriate to,” he said.
Media lawyer Peter Jacobsen, who has been fighting to make Project Brazen documents public on behalf of news organizations including Global News, said the intense surveillance and additional warrants make it clear the investigation is continuing in full force. A still sealed information to obtain, dated March 7, signals to him that police needed the information to remain confidential “in order to make sure whatever they’re searching for wouldn’t be removed.”
“Once they’ve completed the search … that material should be made available to the public because the search is over and there’s going to be no prejudice to the search by the public knowing what is being searched for and when.”
As the Oct. 27 municipal election approaches, it’s unclear how many more documents related to the investigation may come to light, and what exactly police are searching for. But Rosenthal believes it will be quite the campaign.
“I think it’s going to be a race to the finish whether he’s charged first before the first vote is cast.”
© Shaw Media, 2014