At 9:30am on Wednesday, March 26, 2008, Toronto City Councilor Rob Ford was arrested for assault. Although the complainant has not been officially named, the Toronto Star cites a "police source" that says it was Ford's wife, Renata. Councilor Ford has since been released from police custody and is scheduled to appear in court April 28, 2008.
On the surface, the story appears to be one of domestic violence; that the police were called and investigated and determined that Ford was guilty of abusing his spouse. However, under Canadian Law, any spousal abuse claim must be responded to with an arrest. Therefore, Ford's arrest may not indicate guilt. In fact, further investigation into the story yields the fact that Ford was actually granted custody of the couple's two young children after the arrest and release. Placing children with an abuser is atypical of Children's Aid. In addition to this is the fact that Ford himself called Toronto Police on Tuesday morning (March 25) to complain that his wife was acting erratically. Police investigators advised him to remove himself and his two children from the home for their safety after visiting the home Tuesday.
At the risk of sounding insensitive, it appears that Rob Ford is a victim of the current social climate and the subsequent laws that have been put in place as a response. While I agree that protecting the victims is of the utmost importance in domestic violence cases, I cannot help but feel like there is a bias against husbands and fathers in the system. Suspected abusers are presumed guilty (why else arrest them as a matter of practice?) and need to prove innocence instead of the other way around.
What if Rob Ford had not called the police the day prior? What if they had not come to his home and assessed the situation and identified him as the better choice for short-term custodial parent? Would he have been released? Would Children's Aid have placed his children with him? But most importantly, would he have been any more or less innocent? Now, it is entirely possible that Ford did commit an act of domestic violence, and if he did so, then he deserves every punishment available. However, if there was even the slightest suspicion from the authorities (police or Children's Aid), could he have gained custody?
One final note: I deplore Rob Ford's politics. His comments about the Asian community (or as he refers to them, "Orientals"), his ethnic slurs (calling another Councilor "Gino-boy"), or his plain offensive rhetoric ("Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?") make me embarrassed to be a man, let alone a citizen in the same municipality that elected such an individual. However, one's political beliefs and one's personal rights are two distinct matters. I loathe having to advocate for him, but in this situation I felt it necessary.
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