Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to appeal his ouster
Published Monday, November 26, 2012 6:27AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 26, 2012 10:36PM EST
In his first public comments since being found guilty of conflict of interest in a verdict that gives him just 14 more days in office, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he's going to file an appeal.
"I'm going to appeal it and get on with my job and take it from there," Ford told a crush of reporters at City Hall Monday afternoon.
"This comes down to left-wing politics," Ford added. "The left-wing wants me out of here and they'll do anything in their power to."
Ford's comments came just two hours after Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland issued his verdict that found him guilty and gave him two weeks to vacate his seat on city council.
"I find that the respondent has failed in his burden to show that his contraventions of the MCIA were the result of a good faith error in judgment," Hackland wrote.
Instead, Hackland determined that Ford's participation in the debate and subsequent vote on whether he should repay $3,150 in donations to his private football foundation solicited on official city letterhead back in 2010, "did not occur through inadvertence."
According to Hackland's written decision: "Inadvertence involves oversight, inattention or carelessness. On the contrary, the respondent’s participation was a deliberate choice."
Ford's removal from office will take effect in 14 days, Hackland wrote, "recognizing that this decision will necessitate administrative changes in the City of Toronto."
Citing significant mitigating circumstances including "absolutely no issue of corruption or pecuniary gain" on the mayor's part, the judge's decision also left the door open for Ford to seek re-election in the future.
"I decline to impose any further disqualification from holding office beyond the current term," Hackland wrote, raising the question of whether Ford can run in a by-election, or would have to wait for the scheduled municipal election in 2014.
Regardless, Ford said Monday that he's going to "fight tooth and nail" to hang onto his chains of office.
"And if they do, for some reason, get me out, I'm going to be running right back. As soon as the next election is, if there's a byelection, I'll have my name the first one on the ballot,” he said.
In the lawsuit launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder, the mayor was accused of failing to declare his conflict of interest ahead of a debate and vote on the issue last February. Magder argued that by participating in that vote, the mayor had violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
In his defence, Ford told the court in September that he didn't remember ever receiving or reading the councillors' handbook that outlines the rules, and that he believed he hadn't done anything wrong.
But in his decision, Hackland said he had difficulty accepting the mayor's defence "based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the Integrity Commissioner and the Code of Conduct."
"In my opinion, the respondent’s actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to wilful blindness. As such, I find his actions are incompatible with an error in judgment."
Talking to reporters after the decision was handed down Monday, Magder's lawyer Clayton Ruby heralded the verdict as a demonstration "that nobody is above the law."
"Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford," Ruby said.
"It could so easily have been avoided. It could have been avoided if Rob Ford had used a bit of common sense and if he had played by the rules."
In his own comments, Magder said despite winning the case, he is not happy with the outcome.
"This is a sad day for Torontonians ... No matter what the judge has decided," he said, bemoaning the money and energy spent on the court fight rather than what he thinks should be the top priority: bettering the city.
"We need to find leaders who are going to work hard to develop solutions and work together to succeed," Magder said, imploring Torontonians to join the effort.
"I'm asking everybody, let's work together to build and nurture the city."