Court reinstates Jim Karygiannis as councillor for Scarborough-Agincourt
TORONTO -- A provincial court has reinstated Jim Karygiannis as the city councillor for Scarborough-Agincourt after he was removed from the position earlier this month over an alleged election expense violation.
Speaking with CP24 Monday afternoon after the decision was made, Karygiannis thanked his constituents for their support during the appeal process.
“I’ve been advised by my legal team that I should be able to return to work tomorrow,” Karygiannis said. “If I’m not there by 9:30, I will be there by lunch.”
Earlier this month, the city clerk informed Karygiannis he was no longer the councillor for Ward 22, due to the supplementary financial statement he filed following last October's election.
According to Ulli Watkiss, the Municipal Elections Act allows candidates to spend $61,207.95, with a maximum of 10 per cent – or $6,120.80 – on "parties and other expressions of appreciation" after voting day.
The clerk alleged that Karygiannis spent $32,083.50 on “parties and other expressions of appreciation” after the 2018 election, which exceeds the expense limit by $25,962.70.Included in the expenses was a dinner totalling $27,083.50 at the Santorini Frill that took place on Dec. 21, 2018.
Karygiannis has maintained that the expense issues were due to a clerical error.
On Nov. 12, he filed an application seeking an “order of relief from the penalty of the forfeiture of office to which he was elected.” In his application, Karygiannis claims the expense related to a dinner at the Santorini Frill was incorrectly identified as an expense for parties and expressions of appreciation.
In the ruling, Justice Chalmers said that he found Karygiannis “acted in good faith” with respect to disclosing the post-election party.
“The amount spent was disclosed. The information with respect to the event was also disclosed in the supplementary financial statement albeit in a different section. I find there was no attempt to hide the expense,” Chalmers wrote.
The city issued a statement late Monday saying, "Based on today's ruling, arrangements are being made to allow Mr. Karygiannis to attend City Council's regularly scheduled meeting tomorrow."
The ruling does not prevent the city from auditing or taking legal action against Karygiannis.
A former Liberal Member of Parliament, Karygiannis has served as city councillor since 2014. During the 2018 election, after the number of wards in Toronto was slashed by the Ontario government, he beat out his colleague Norm Kelly to stay at city hall.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in midtown, Karygiannis’s colleagues said that they were glad to see him reinstated.
“I think that the way he was removed seemed to be without any real opportunity through the provincial system for appeal initially and I think that should be reviewed,” said Counc. Josh Matlow. “He was dismissed immediately, he was taken out of his office. There probably should have been an opportunity for him to at least appeal that before he was removed. That brings a lot of instability to council and the community and I don’t think that it is good for democracy.”
“We all make mistakes,” Counc. Mike Colle added. “I’m glad to see him back because I really don’t like judges overruling a democratic decision made by the people of Scarborough.”