No distracted driving charge for Toronto mayor Ford
Published Wednesday, July 27, 2011 7:40PM EDT
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will not face charges for speaking on his cellphone while driving, police said on Wednesday after a woman accused him of breaking the province's distracted driving laws.
An aide to the mayor has admitted that Ford was on the phone while driving in the city's downtown Friday night.
The incident first came to light when a Toronto woman alleged the mayor gave her and her daughter the finger after she asked him to hang up the phone. In Ontario it is against the law to speak on a cellphone while driving.
Ottillie Mason wrote that the affair unfolded on Tuesday as she was driving along Dundas Street West in the city centre with her six-year-old daughter.
That's when she spotted Ford behind the wheel of his beige van chatting on his phone, according to her Facebook posting.
"We aptly give him a thumbs down and say, ‘get off your cell phone!'" she recounts, adding that she again asked the mayor to get off the phone.
"He keeps giving us the finger and I can see him mouthing swear words through the window," she wrote.
Ford has denied making the rude gesture, claiming the woman's accusation is not "accurate" and that the entire affair is due to a "misunderstanding."
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said police do not retroactively pursue distracted driving charges because it takes up too many resources.
He added that police have never pursued charges against motorists who later admitted to driving while speaking on the phone and that the mayor should be treated equally.
Using a cellphone while behind the wheel in Ontario can bring a $155 fine.
The City of Toronto is currently considering a round of budget cuts, which could force the police service to reduce its overall spending by as much as eight per cent.
When asked about the distracted driving issue on Wednesday, Premier Dalton McGuinty said he had no advice for Ford but that the province was proud of its cell phone ban, which took effect in October 2009.
"I can say with pride that we have a law on the books ... and I also say with pride this law has been adopted in several other North American jurisdictions," McGuinty said.
"It's a matter of fundamental public safety on our roads and I would encourage all Ontarians to take that into account as they go about their daily business."
With files from The Canadian Press