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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, city councillor Doug Ford, left, arrive before talking on their radio show in Toronto on Nov. 3, 2013. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, city councillor Doug Ford, left, arrive before talking on their radio show in Toronto on Nov. 3, 2013. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

From release of alleged video to extortion charges: Experts weigh in on the Rob Ford scandal Add to ...

Strategies and counter-strategies are swirling as Rob Ford clashes with the Toronto police over Chief Bill Blair’s announcement that the alleged drug video exists. The Globe and Mail asked police and legal experts to probe the possibilities.

1. Why would Rob Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, demand that police make an apparently damaging video public?

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It creates an impression Mr. Ford has nothing to hide, Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young says. “There’s nothing else to say,” lawyer Paul Copeland says. “He perceives it’s going to be released soon by a judge or by somebody,” lawyer Clayton Ruby says. “Alternatively, he really thinks someone will look at it and say, ‘That’s tobacco.’ Good luck.”

2. Rob Ford says he can’t defend himself because matters related to the alleged drug video are before the courts. Is he right?

No. “He could speak,” lawyer Frank Addario says. “There are many reasons why someone might decline. These reasons would not be known to the outside world.”

3. Why would the lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, make a public appeal to Mr. Ford to meet for an interview?

Police protocol is to call an individual’s lawyer to set up such a meeting, retired Toronto police detective Christopher Downer says. A public appeal “comes down to exerting some kind of pressure to speak,” he says.

4. So Mr. Ford does not have to speak to police if asked?

No. “Any citizen in Canada can refuse to submit to a police interview,” Mr. Addario says.

5. Alessandro Lisi was charged with extortion in connection to the Ford video, and had hundreds of telephone contacts with Mr. Ford during the period where Mr. Lisi was allegedly committing extortion. Why isn’t Mr. Ford charged, too?

“To be a party to the offence of extortion, the Crown would need to prove that Ford aided or encouraged the perpetrator with the knowledge that the perpetrator would commit the offence of extortion,” Prof. Young says. “You can’t be charged with extortion based on making a phone call – it’s the content of the phone call that matters,” Mr. Downer says. Wiretap evidence might establish that.

6. Did police listen in on Mr. Ford’s phone calls?

“We will not discuss specifics of what we did or didn’t do,” said Mark Pugash, a Toronto police spokesman.

7. Why does extortion carry a maximum life penalty?

Extortion is a serious offence because it involves coercion through threats and menacing, Mr. Addario says. “But it’s rare or unprecedented for someone to be punished that severely.”

8. Under what circumstances can a mayor be forced off a city council?

A prison sentence would do it. A criminal charge or even a conviction would not be enough, municipal-law specialist John Mascarin says. A mayor (or any other council member) would be disqualified if he were no longer an eligible voter – if he ceased to be a Canadian citizen, or to reside, own property or rent in the municipality. Prison inmates cannot vote in city elections in Ontario. A mayor could also be removed for a conflict of interest, or if he has not attended council or committee meetings for three months. If Mr. Ford wished to seek treatment for alleged substance abuse, as some councillors have urged him to do, he would need council’s permission to do so if he were to be away more than three months.

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