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Rob Ford removed from office

Toronto Mayor found guilty in landmark conflict of interest case

by Justin Saunders

Rob in happier times on the campaign trail
Rob in happier times on the campaign trail

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was ordered removed from office today, after being found guilty of breaching the city's conflict of interest law. An Ontario Superior Court judge released the decision this morning. The case centered around the mayor's inappropriate use of city resources to solicit funds for his football charity, and a subsequent council vote on the issue that he participated in - one in a long line of alleged and actual misdeeds.

Ford's seat is now technically vacant, although the declaration of vacancy has been temporarily suspended for 14 days in order to give the city time to put it's house in order.

A number of things could now occur. Although Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is invested with most mayoral powers in this scenario, it is likely that City Council will either appoint an interim mayor or spend several million dollars on a mayoral byelection. It is unclear if the decision precludes Ford from running again in a byelection held before the end of his term. The judge, who "declined to imposed any further disqualification" from office, did have the option of barring Ford from municipal politics for seven years.

The case, argued by well-known Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby on behalf of Toronto resident Paul Madger, challenged Ford's participation in a council vote on whether or not he should pay back $3,150 which was solicited for his football foundation using his position and city resources. Ford, who both spoke to and voted on the motion, had been notably uncooperative and expressed no remorse for his actions during several appearances on the witness stand.

Justice Hackland chastised Ford for his attitude toward the issue, noting that "There must be some diligence on the respondent’s part; that is, some effort to understand and appreciate his obligations. Outright ignorance of the law will not suffice, nor will wilful blindness as to one’s obligations."

Ford has the right to appeal the decision.

The full text of the ruling is available here.

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Update:

In a press conference this afternoon in which he reportedly sounded 'hoarse', Ford said he plans to fight 'tooth and nail' to stay in office as he appeals the ruling. He also stated that his name will appear "first" on the ballot in any mayoral by-election.


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Topics: Governance
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