Renata Ford says she wants to 'start a new life' with kids after impaired driving conviction
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018 10:00AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 20, 2018 6:50PM EDT
The widow of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford has avoided jail time but will serve three years of probation after she pleaded guilty a 2016 impaired driving charge.
Renata Ford was arrested on Dec. 28, 2016 at a plaza near her Etobicoke home.
She was charged with driving while impaired and having a blood alcohol reading of over 80 mg, both of which she pleaded guilty to.
Justice Ted Kelly handed her a suspended sentence on Wednesday morning which included three years’ probation, a two year driving ban and a $1,100 fine.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Ford was driving near the Humber Town Plaza on the Kingsway near Royal York Rd. at around 5:45 p.m. when she attempted to make a left hand turn into an LCBO parking lot and “rubbed up against” another vehicle.
When Ford pulled into a parking spot, witnesses to the incident helped her out of her vehicle and led her to a curb.
Ford told the witnesses “she needed a cigarette” and asked them not to call police before standing up and walking into the LCBO.
The document says an LCBO store manager refused to sell her a bottle of wine. Police officers later found Ford in the passenger seat of her vehicle where “they detected an odor of an alcohol beverage” on her breath.
She then failed a breathalyzer test, prompting police to take her into custody.
Crown attorney Brady Donohue initially requested that Ford serve 45 days in jail. Addressing that request in his judgment, Kelly said “sentencing is an inherently individualized process.”
Ford has two previous convictions, one dating back to 1997 when she refused to provide a breath sample and the other to 2005 for impaired driving.
Her lawyer, Dennis Morris, argued that she is now “completely free of alcohol and Valium” and has “discovered a joy for life” as a result of her sobriety. He told the court there is “no need in the public interest” to give Ford jail time and that the convictions were “dated.”
Morris said the 2016 incident happened around Christmastime, when Ford and her young children were dealing with their first holiday without their dad and her husband.
“She did a lot of work on herself and a lot of counselling as well,” he told reporters after court adjourned. “Based on the counselling that she’s received – 100 hours with a very good counsellor – I’m pretty certain that the chances (of her reoffending) are slim.”
Ford spoke briefly during the proceedings and apologized for her actions.
Outside the courtroom, she said she’s ready to “start a new life.”
“I want to change my house, change my environment around, maybe start a new life again for me and my kids. I think we all deserve it,” she said.
Ford’s late husband, Rob, was mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014. He died of a rare form of cancer, liposarcoma, in March of 2016. He was 46.
“It’s been hard since Rob died, both the kids miss him terribly (and) so do I, but we have to carry on,” she said. “They’re kids, so they want to enjoy their summer and go away to camp and be kids, right? And I want to give them that.”
Ford nodded to her counsellor, Andrea De Goias of Prometheum Institute, who accompanied her to and from the courthouse, for how she’s improved her life since she was arrested.
“I’ve been doing really wonderfully,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy but you have to try and carry on, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
As part of the sentence conditions, Ford will report to a probation officer and complete 100 hours of community service within 18 months. She must complete an alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation program and have an interlocking device installed on any vehicle she owns.
Ford made headlines earlier this month when she filed a lawsuit against her late husband’s brother, Doug Ford, alleging that he mismanaged family assets and Rob Ford’s estate.
The lawsuit came on the cusp of a provincial election, which Doug Ford, the then leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, ultimately won on June 7.
The lawsuit claims that Ford was in breach of trust in his capacity as trustee of his late brother’s affairs. It seeks $5 million each for Renata and her two children, as well as $750,000 in punitive damages and legal costs. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Ford would not elaborate on the lawsuit, noting it’s currently before the courts.
“That’s been very stressful,” she said. “Yes, I’d like it to end.”