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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (Peter Power/Peter Power/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (Peter Power/Peter Power/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Road Sage

Cellphones, Rob Ford, crime and punishment Add to ...

There was outrage a few weeks back in Toronto, a city that’s made “being outraged” followed by “doing nothing” a civic pastime.

A woman claimed she saw Mayor Rob Ford using his cellphone while driving, an offence that carries up to a $500 fine in Ontario. The mayor was keeping a low profile, motoring around in a minivan with plates that read “ROB FORD” when he was spied talking and texting. Two months ago, he was seen committing a similar offence and swore to cease and desist.

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“There was no question that it was Rob Ford,” Sarah Barrett told The Globe and Mail. “How could you not recognize him? And he had his phone on his ear.”

This recent sighting raises a few interesting points:

1) Toronto car thieves must be illiterate. This guy is driving around with plates that read “ROB FORD” and they haven’t broken into his vehicle yet. Come on, he’s asking for it! His car comes with directions!

2) More importantly, why is the mayor of Toronto driving himself around? Wouldn’t his time be better spent working for the people of Toronto? You know, fixing problems rather figuring out a way to turn left from Yonge Street.

There is a reason we don’t ask surgeons to wash dishes or generals to dig trenches. They’re supposed to possess talents and intelligence that need to be applied to more important tasks. Can’t we spring for a driver and a limo? Isn’t driving around gridlocked Toronto a waste of a mayor’s time? Apparently Rob Ford doesn’t think so. Maybe he doesn’t feel he possesses any special talent or intelligence. If this is the case, maybe he isn’t as dim-witted as library-goers say.

3) Why is it that you never see a driver – famous or not – arrested for a traffic offence you saw him commit?

Put it this way. Over the Labour Day weekend, the Ontario Provincial Police gave out 6,472 speeding tickets, charged 120 people with impaired driving, 91 for road racing and made 105 roadside suspensions. That’s all very well and good, but I did not see any of those hit with fines or jails terms commit their offences. I have to take the police officer’s word for it. That’s hardly satisfying.

I want law enforcement to cruise our nation's roads and highways and, any time a motorist cuts me off or I see a motorist commit an infraction, I want the heat there within 30 seconds arresting him.

How hard is that? Is that too much to ask?

I see the police pull people over all the time, well, not actually pull them over, I see drivers who’ve been pulled over. The cop stands by the car, his face wearing an expression that is a combination of detached amusement and seething disbelief. There’s just one problem. I haven’t seen those people do anything wrong, so it’s not that gratifying.

Here’s an example of how my new system would play out (for argument’s sake, I’ll cast Rob Ford as the culprit). It’s Sunday morning and I’m driving across the Bloor Viaduct. I know there is a speed trap on this bridge Sunday mornings. There always is but on this Sunday a guy in a van with ROB FORD plates either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. He bird-dogs me, riding my bumper, and then darts into the left lane and puts pedal to the metal, hitting at least 70 km/h. At this point, a police officer pulls the offending driver over and begins to issue him a ticket.

If he wants, that officer can frisk him a few times. I won’t say anything.

As an added bonus, I get to drive by slowly and, as I do, the constable waves at me.

In reality, what happens? My imaginary Rob Ford blows by, talking and texting, and directs a string of expletives at me as he speeds past. He doesn’t get a ticket. Often, the cops are already giving some other guy a ticket (a guy, I might add, who I have not seen do anything wrong).

How is that fair? What about my idiot? Doesn’t he deserve a ticket?

Now, I’m not saying cops have an easy job. They don’t. Their job is to show up when people are at their worst. Nobody says, “Hey, this party is really rocking, and everyone is getting along. Let’s get the cops over.” Nope. It’s “My neighbour’s been drinking and he just cut his finger off to show his girlfriend how much he loves her. Somebody call the cops.”

I get it. Tough job. Very difficult. But that doesn’t excuse the police from their obligation to, just once, arrest a motorist I see commit a driving offence immediately after I see them do it. I don’t mind if they let the guy off with a warning. I’m not heartless. I just lack imagination. Justice seen is justice served.

And since we’re discussing justice being served, it might be a good idea to Toronto’s custodians of the law to keep their eyes peeled for any vehicle bearing ROB FORD plates. Next time you see him texting and driving, arrest the man (guys, he’s cutting your budget).

You could sentence him to community service. How nice would that feel? The judge could make him volunteer at his local library.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

Follow on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

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