And the Verdict Is….

… As you all know already, Mayor Larry O’Brien has been found not guilty on charges of influence peddling.
Did anyone really expect any different?

The judge spent more than an hour giving reasons for the verdict he eventually rendered in Dirty Larry’s influence peddling trial, and those few who really had a question in their mind as to the outcome of the trial before it began certainly didn’t after a few minutes of what the judge had to say today. Judge Cunningham dismissed the evidence and testimony of all prosecution witnesses as unreliable or lacking in credibility in absolving O’Brien of guilt, despite the fact that some of this corroborating testimony came from members of government’s upper echelon’s and people who were more likely to support O’Brien than Kilrea.

A little strange, isn’t it?

Lisa McLeod’s testimony was determined to be weak and unworthy of belief. MP John Baird’s testimony, which seemed to support and corroborate Kilrea’s claims, must have been deemed unreliable as well. Am I the only one disturbed by the fact that a sitting cabinet minister can give testimony and have it deemed “unreliable?”

Not that I’m a fan of John Baird, or think that he is a paragon of virtue and morality. I’m just saying…

By rendering this verdict, after the defence’s soft-shoe shuffling with semantic arguments and efforts to obfuscate the meaning of the charges, the judge has essentially implied that there was a grand conspiracy of ignorance and ineptitude that somehow crystallized disparate characters and observations into a single, cohesive claim. That’s kinda like the thousand monkeys typing out the Bible.

But, in reality, none of this has anything to do with the testimony, or conspiracy or ignorance. O’Brien was bound to escape conviction on this charge because to judge him guilty would have opened a massive can of particularly pungent worms in the political world. There would have been a precedent set.

Because, the defence is right; this is something that happens ever day in every level of government.

It’s the tit for tat system. Patronage, in other words. Maybe it isn’t always as blunt and obvious as in this case, but politicians are always trading on their influence. Influence and authority are the currency of politics. The only difference is that in this case, O’Brien was trading on this currency in order to get into politics, rather than to maneuver within it.

Convicting Dirty Larry would have required that we open all other politicians to criminal charge for the things they do regularly, and that’s not something any judge would be willing to contemplate lightly. So, Mayor Larry walks.

He can pose and posture all he likes about how this was a battle he “had to take” in order to “clear his good name” for his children, blah blah blah. If he truly believes any of the drivel coming out of his mouth, Larry’s more deluded than I thought. And, none of it matters. If there is any sense and reason in this world, his political life is still basically over. The public remember this entire event, and, as the public often does, render judgement of its own at the next election. I lack no certitude of the stupidity of the public, so I can admit that Larry might even escape this particular fate, but any campaign manager worth his salt will at least give him a run for his money. More to the point, O’Brien has been out of politics, effectively, since May, which means that the city has been chugging along effectively without him. Pretty hard to claim you’re the best man for the job in a coming election when a vacant seat did just as well for three months as it did with your ass filling it.

Add to that the broken promises and plain blunders, a la transit strike and “Zero Means Zero,” and you’ve got a lame duck just waiting to be sunk.

And, in my opinion, change can’t come soon enough.

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