So. Bear with me, here. This takes some explainin’.
Back in late December, I wrote about prominent political strategist Nick Kouvalis being charged for a visit he and others made to a Kelsey’s. That was, you know, open.
I said then that criminal charges never should have been laid against Nick Kouvalis. Because, when one looks at all the facts, the whole episode was disturbing. Really disturbing.
Now, the Globe and Mail “broke” the story on December 27, three months after the fact. That’s a long time, three months.
During Christmas break, as you’d know or expect, every media outlet is always pretty short staffed. The timing and the placement of the “story” was not a coincidence, in my view. It bore all the hallmarks, in fact, of a drive-by on Kouvalis, timed for maximum damage.
So, the Globe went with the mysteriously-leaked story. And, initially, the cops were pretty matter-of-fact with what they said. And that’s how I saw this: “A restaurant employee confirmed that nothing was taken during the incident.”
Thereafter, however, alternate facts started to pop up in the coverage, like weeds. Stuff like: “Kouvalis broke into a restaurant.” And: “It was after hours.” And: “He took booze.”
Thereafter, too, some cops confirmed all of that, and then the usual happened: Cut. Paste. Send. Twitter. Facebook. Email.
Kouvalis was clearly guilty, he’s a political liability, he should be thrown in jail, blah blah blah. Being a former cop reporter with undiagnosed oppositional disorder, however, I was perplexed. I said so.
The small army of non-Globe reporters who chased this story down had a significant impact on the outcome. With just a few pointed questions, the whole thing started to unravel.
First, the Globe and Mail story. Black and white, open and shut, yadda yadda. Kouvalis was guilty.
But on the very next day – the next day! – the constabulary got some real questions from CTV. They admitted that they “could not confirm that beverages were actually taken.” Quote unquote.
Then, on the selfsame day, a Toronto Star reporter pressed for specific details about the so-called break-in. The veteran officer said that he now “couldn’t recall the exact manner of the break-in.” And: that it was “either doors left open or forced entry from pulling on the door.”
So, um, which is it? Kouvalis either walked in through an unlocked door. Or, you know, he forced his way through a locked door. Bit of a difference, there, boys and girls.
Here is what I am told by Very Reliable Sources.
1. The ‘Open’ sign was on.
2. Kouvalis didn’t arrive “after hours.” He arrived during “regular business hours.”
3. The lights were on, and not just in the bar part. The entire kitchen, too.
4. Many open bottles of booze were sitting on the bar. Not locked away.
5. The bar stools and whatnot were all down, and the bar area wasn’t cleaned up. Nothing had been secured.
This next part is the best part.
Someone at Kesley’s contacted Yours Truly, all secret decoder ring and whatnot, and said that a cop who came to Kelsey’s that night had the bar manager person try and re-lock the front door. They tried. The cop then opened the door. Even though it was supposed to be, you know, “locked.”
Doesn’t sound like “break and enter” to me. (But what do I know: I just teach at one of Canada’s best law schools.)
Anyway. The bottom line is that the exculpatory evidence, as it’s called, didn’t matter. Someone decided they were going to screw up Kouvalis’ life for the next several months. And they did.
Now, why might anyone want do that? Who?
In the past, Nick Kouvalis has (a) helped elect John Tory and (b) worked for the Toronto Police Association. That’s the cop union, by the way. A couple years after Tory was elected, the size of the police force was reduced to 4,750 members from 5,200 in three years. Civilian employees would be reduced to 1,850 from 2,220.
The union was losing 800 people. That’s more than a million bucks in dues a year. That’s a lot. Among other things, it might even mean police union bosses could lose their expense accounts at that Harbour 60 place!
Anyway. I’ve gone on too long. As a former cop reporter, and a former political guy who occasionally had to deal with police union bosses, I say this: the way this whole Nick Kouvalis thing happened was a clear warning to the mayor and city council. It was: comply with our demands or we’re coming after you next.
That is why Kouvalis was criminally charged. Period. It didn’t matter if the door wasn’t locked and the bar was wide open. It didn’t matter. He pissed off the police union bosses, and they got him, but good.
Anyway: here’s how this (long) story ends. As of this morning, the criminal charges against Nick Kouvalis have been withdrawn. No Breaking and Entering. No Theft Under $5000. No Trespassing under the Criminal Code. None of that.
Instead, a “Provincial Offence Act” violation for tresspassing. A $50 ticket.
The kind you’d get for staying too long in a parking lot.
My advice to Nick Kouvalis:
- I’m hearing you’ve been doing well with your sobriety. Keep at it.
- Get back to work. Get all your team back to work. Focus on the provincial election and the municipal elections in Ontario and BC this year.
- Watch your back.
- And, congrats.