Judge deliberates on case that could oust Mayor Ford
Published Thursday, September 6, 2012 7:39PM EDT
A lawsuit that has the potential to oust Toronto Mayor Rob Ford from office entered its second day in court Thursday, with lawyers from both sides arguing over the mayor’s previous testimony.
Ford took the stand at his conflict-of-interest trial Wednesday, but his lawyer took over Thursday, arguing that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which Ford is alleged to have breached, should not even apply in this case.
The trial, which was launched by a private citizen who is represented by high-profile lawyer Clayton Ruby, surrounds a council meeting in February where Ford participated and voted in a debate about his use of city resources to raise money for his personal football charity.
Ford’s lawyer argued that he had every right to speak during that council meeting.
“Why can’t he speak?" asked Ford’s lawyer. “You would muzzle city councillors if they couldn't speak to those matters"
Ruby, however picked apart Ford’s pervious testimony.
On Wednesday, Ford told the court that he believed that the Conflict of Interest Act had to involve his work with the city, and since this was his own personal charity, it wouldn’t apply.
Ford had also argued that he didn’t violate the act because he didn’t benefit financially from his actions.
Ruby said Thursday that it was part of the mayor’s job to know the rules.
"This cannot be Mayor Ford's true understanding of the Conflict of Interest Act… it makes no sense,” Ruby told the court.
Whether or not Ford knew the true definition of a conflict of interest has become a key question in the case.
Ford will be removed from office only if he is found to have knowingly broken the rules, rather than making an honest error in judgment.
Ruby argued that "ignorance of the law is not an error in judgment" and pointed out that the mayor swore an oath, saying he would not break the act.
Ford said Wednesday that he had not read the act in full before taking the oath.
Swearing such an oath without even reading it is "simply ensuring that it will be breached,” said Ruby, telling the court that Ford was "deliberately and willfully blind.”
After a morning of sitting in a courtroom listening to Ruby poke holes through his previous testimony, Ford walked out of the courtroom at the noon break without speaking to reporters.
He did not return in the afternoon.
The verdict in the case will take at least a month, though the judge has said that he hopes to provide a timely decision.
With files from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford walks out for a lunch break during his court appearance in Toronto on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (Michelle Siu / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A court sketch depicts Rob Ford, who appeared in a Toronto court on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (Natalie Berman / CTV News)