Our illustrious mayor was seen today, and photographed, driving the new Cadillac that he got for his birthday a few weeks ago… reading. Yes, reading while driving. He didn’t even try to deny it: “Yeah, probably… I’m try[ing] to catch up on my work and you know I keep my eyes on the road, but I’m a busy man.” Well, I’m not convinced that he keeps his eyes on the road, (when I get a new car… the few times that has happened… it takes a couple of weeks to get used to how it handles and reacts in traffic) any more than I believe the thousands of others who cause accidents every year… although millions, like Ford, continue to take the risk. If he’s really that busy, perhaps he should get a chauffeur? But that would make him too much like those who went before him, whom Ford has refused to associate with: it’s “an extravagance that Mayor Ford continues to eschew.” (National Post, 2012)
Not only that: he didn’t even think the question was important enough to deny when asked by reporters. “Ridiculous questions sometimes, seriously.” (CBC, 2012) Apparently keeping the citizens’ (and, more importantly, his) taxes low and maintaining his extravagant lifestyle is important and worthy of questions: but safety? The law? Risking the lives of the citizens he’s pledges to “represent” (and I use the term loosely)? “Ridiculous.” I guess he “eschews” those questions, as well.
Now: don’t get the idea that he was just driving on a residential street, maybe 20 or 30 km/hr. This was on the Gardiner, a major east-west artery that we in Toronto are very familiar with. “At around 11 am., Twitter user @RyanGHaughton… said the image was taken at around 10 am. when traffic was moving at about 70 km/h close to the Jameson Avenue exit on the Gardiner.” (Examiner, 2012) I’ve only driven on it a handful of times: precisely because it is so dangerous, and conditions can change so quickly. In that area of the city, I’ll just as soon take the bus… something else the mayor “eschews.”
I note that Ryan’s twitter account has since closed down… although copies of the picture survive. I wonder why? We’re assured that the photo is not a fake, and besides the mayor admits it was “probably” him. Perhaps Ryan G was suddenly getting too much attention from undesirable (powerful) elements of Mr. Ford’s following? I don’t know.
According to police, Mr. Ford was not charged… “the mayor did not break the distracted driving law, since the distracted driving legislation applies only to electronic devices.” (680 News, 2012) How interesting. I seem to remember that when that law was being debated, that many argued that a ban on cell phones was not necessary, because we already had a distracted driving law that would cover it. All we need to do is to enforce existing laws. According to the Canada Safety Council, (2001) “Careless driving laws are already in place to prosecute drivers who do not make the driving task their top priority… under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, drivers guilty of driving without due care and attention pay a fine from $200 to $1,000.” But then I guess the Ontario Highway Traffic Act laws only applies to those who aren’t mayor.
As the same laws didn’t apply last year, when a witness reported seeing Ford talking on his cell phone while driving… and he even admitted it publicly… but police told reporters, “it would be difficult to get a conviction” (The Star, 2011). Strange how that doesn’t seem to work for the rest of us. We get charged, on even silly or exaggerated charges, such as the woman who “touched” her cell phone “while stopped at a red light when she retrieved it from her car floor, where it had dropped.” (The Star, July 2012)
At least we can be fairly sure it wasn’t a library book that Mr. Ford was reading. Or any of the fiction by Margaret Atwood. (Geographer’s Corner, 2011)
Then again, we must not be as busy as Mayor Ford. Or at least as busy as he thinks he is.
We’re certainly not as “important”.