You know which stories made HUGE headlines in 2013 and which continue the trend in 2014?
In Peterborough, Mayor Daryl Bennett was suspended from the Peterborough Lakefield Police Services Board for conduct unbecoming a Board Member. He was accused of all sorts of shenanigans involving hiring and the funding for the police. He was suspended even before he had a hearing, which I found rather odd.
In London, Mayor Joe Fontana was charged with FRAUD by the RCMP! This had to do with allegedly using City funds for his son’s wedding. Yikes! In addition, a number of municipal Councillors held an alleged covert backdoor meeting at a bar called Billy T’s which cost City of London tax payers around $100,000 in legal fees.
And who can forget Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who was all over the news with his crack scandal, Sandro Lissi trial, drug tape, and now the Steak Queen Patois drunken rant. Amazing stuff!
To say that it wasn’t a good year for local mayors is an under statement. Or, perhaps it was a great year for them?!?
When you think of a mayor, you want to think that person is honest, intelligent, hard working and credible. You want to think that they’re in municipal politics for all the right reasons: to help people and help the city/municipality with its daily affairs. Above all, you want that person to be trustworthy.
Believe it or not, but insurers, judges and juries are looking for the same idyllic qualities of a mayor (less the charisma) in an accident victim.
If a mayoral candidate appears dishonest, corrupt, lazy and incompetent, it’s likely that they won’t get re-elected to office. Hey Toronto, perhaps I’m speaking too soon? There’s a chance that Torontonians will re-elect Mayor Ford. We’ll have to wait and see.
If a Plaintiff appears dishonest, corrupt and lazy, it’s likely that an insurer, judge and jury will not believe their story. If these guys don’t believe your story, then your case will be a very difficult one to win or to settle for fair value.
At our law firm, we remind our clients of the importance of telling the truth. If legal cases were game shows, the correct answer would always be to tell the truth. When you tell the truth, you only add points to your likeability and credibility.
When you begin to lie, cheat, guess at answers, or try to defraud the system, you’re only hurting yourself. The reality is that you will get caught, one way or another. And when you get caught, your case will enter a point of no return. Municipal politics ought to be the same, but it’s not.
Sometimes I wish that the Ford Brothers were both clients at my law firm. It’s not that I wish they become catastrophically injured accident victims. We don’t wish that sort of harm on anyone.
It’s just that I think they would benefit from our guidance and legal advice. Case in point:
We tell our clients that if they don’t know the answer to a question, just say “I don’t know” OR “I can’t remember“. It’s that easy. End of story.
These sort of answers are particularly helpful when an opposing lawyer asks an accident victim a question relating to a certain document or a video. If the client hasn’t seen the document or the video, then how can they possibly provide a cogent and truthful answer. All you need to say is “I haven’t see that document/tape; so I can’t provide a proper answer”.
See. Wasn’t that easy?
What happened yesterday to the Ford Brothers is a classic example of what NOT to do both in politics, and in personal injury law. Doing what the Ford Brothers did is a sure fire way to lose likeability points and credibility points (not that they matter as their base will vote for them regardless of what happens).
A video surfaced of Mayor Ford at the Steak Queen showing him ranting on in a Jamaican accent and speaking in Patois. He appeared to be drunk. I wasn’t there so I can’t say for sure if he was drunk, but let’s just say that he didn’t look quite right to me on the video.
Doug Ford was interviewed after the tape came out. He first said that he never saw the tape; BUT; he continued to provide answers to questions about the tape and about his brother. He insisted 100% that Rob wasn’t drinking and that the tape wasn’t from Monday night either. Doug was adamant that Rob wasn’t drunk or drinking.
All Doug had to do here was just to say that he hadn’t seen the tape, so he couldn’t provide a comment on it. Or, he could have said “I don’t know, please ask Rob because I wasn’t there“. End of story. Easy Peezy.
Rob Ford then comes out and admits that he was drinking on Monday.
Rob’s statements completely discredited his brother’s previous statements along with his credibility.
Credit for Doug not throwing his brother under the bus and trying to stand by his brother? I guess it’s never too late for that. But, it wasn’t the most intelligent political move.
From this point forward, how can anyone believe what Doug has to say when he’s shown a propensity to lie or to misstate the truth or facts, or just make stuff up. This is not the first time his comments haven’t corroborated with his brother’s comments. See the crack scandal.
Our clients who aren’t municipal councilors don’t do that sort of thing. You would think that elected officials would have the political savvy, the intelligence or the common sense to do the same. You would also think that they would have PR people or handlers to help them out in these sort of situations to prevent this from ever happening. Apparently not.
Would it surprise me if Doug and Rob Ford got re-elected? Absolutely not. If any publicity is good publicity, then the Ford Brothers are well on their way to many re-elections for years to come.
If I were in an accident, would I want them as witnesses for my case? Absolutely not.
Are there any ramifications for elected officials lying, guessing or misstating facts? Doesn’t appear to be that way. I guess we will have to wait til election day.