Mandatory Minimum Musings

So the latest talking point in the Rob Ford fiasco is about how Ford was a victim of minimum mandatory sentencing - that even a "minor infraction" of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act forces him out of office. Described by the judge as a "blunt tool" as he tried his best to make the punishment for the offence as small as possible. Teh Left is contrasting this with the federal Conservatives omnibus crime mega-bill to the Criminal Code implementing a bunch of mandatory minimum sentences. So it's lol - Ford a victim of Conservative agenda of mandatory minimums - lol.

First, we're talking about totally different things. Ron Ford's penalty is that he loses his job - one that the contract ends in two years anyways. Not the same as mandatory minimum jail sentence. Second - the job is Mayor of LEAFS SUCK. One of those positions of authority with a lot of public trust. The kind of position where it's kinda reasonable for society to expect higher standards of behaviour. There's all sorts of folks complaining about the law - but as John Lorinc has pointed out, the penalty is the same in many other provinces. And no surprise - the basic concept is "you are not allowed to use your public office for personal pecuniary gain". That's sound. It's one of those things that help us Canoodlians maintain what we refer to as "good government".

Lastly, and I touched on this yesterday, Holy Fucking Shit. Rob Ford was granted maximum leniency and that was not viewed as enough. Which is total fucking bullshit. Let's consider for a moment what factors affect whether leniency should be applied:

1. First offence. Well it is true that this is the first time Rob Ford was dragged into court for this specific law, it is not the first time his actions have run afoul code of conduct violations. In fact the actual ruling itself originates from the multiple times Ford has spken to and voted on matters directly regarding his own financial affairs.
2. Admission of guilt, contrition, acceptance that the convicted had done something wrong. Ha ha ha.
3. Mental state of the accused. Okay, Ford is obviously mentally deficient, but this factor actually refers acting out of character due to stress or extraordinary circumstances. Again, not true in this case. In Ford's deposition a couple months ago, he said he had no regrets and would not have done anything differently.
4. Impact on other parties - i.e. if there are others that are dependent on the convicted. You might think that this applies since folks expect the Mayor of LEAFS SUCK to actually do stuff for the city. Except that recently, he's not been doing much of this either. We've basically been without a mayor since the beginning of September (and arguably a lot longer ago than that).
5. On the opposite end of the spectrum is denying leniency as a means of deterring others. Issuing a harsh penalty to prevent similar crimes from happening in the future. Public officials acting in conflict of interest - seems to me to be one of those types of crimes that you want "deterent-ified".

Rob Ford has done nothing to earn leniency. The only argument for it is about the severity of the crime - voting on a $3,150 repayment. But even this argument falls apart. $3,150 isn't the total amount he raised for his personal charity using city letterhead - it's the amount he raised directly from registered lobbyists and a corporation that has contracts with the city using city letterhead. It's not about $3,150, it's about the sum total of funds being addressed by those lobbyists and the contracts with that corporate donor.

Edit: Oh BTW, the accepted wisdom that the punishment was too harsh? Punditland la-la nonsense. Polling in the days after the decision shows that most LEAFS SUCKians agree with the ruling. Forum Research found 58% agreed with the decision and this Angus Reid pdf shows that 69% support the decision to remove the mayor from office. The Globe and Mails poll I talked about yesterday had 71% saying that the punishment was appropriate.

Update: Stay of decision has been granted until appeal has been heard.