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Friday, January 25, 2013

Judges Make Mockery Of Justice System : Rob Ford wins appeal, will stay in office


Mayor Rob Ford wins appeal, will stay in office

Toronto Star

Rob Ford has won his conflict of interest appeal. He will remain mayor.
In a judgment released today, a three-judge Divisional Court panel overturned the November ruling that evicted Ford from office over a February violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

His victory ends an unprecedented period of uncertainty at City Hall — and averts an unprecedented period of upheaval. Had the court upheld the ruling, Ford would have lost his job, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday would have become interim mayor, and council would have been forced to call a $7-million-plus byelection or appoint a successor.
The appeal panel ruled that the judge who made the November ruling, Regional Senior Justice Charles Hackland, erred significantly. The judges in the appeal were Regional Senior Justice Edward Then, Justice Lynne Leitch, and Justice Katherine Swinton.
Ford had operated under a cloud since early September, when his testimony in the case made it clear he was in serious trouble. The lawsuit against him was filed in March by lawyer Clayton Ruby on behalf of resident Paul Magder, who was directed to the case by left-leaning activist Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler.
Ford had criticized the lawsuit as an attempt by his ideological foes to oust him by any means available. Magder said he was simply attempting to hold Ford accountable for his behaviour. Chaleff-Freudenthaler has refused to speak about his role.
The case centred on Ford’s actions at a council meeting in February. When council considered a motion to excuse him from repaying $3,150 to 11 lobbyists and one corporation from whom he improperly sought donations to his charitable football foundation, Ford gave a speech urging his colleagues to let him off the hook, then voted in favour of excusing himself. The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act forbids politicians from speaking or voting on any issue in which they have a personal financial interest.
There is one possibility for the case to remain alive: an appeal to the Supreme Court. This, however, is widely viewed as a longshot.
Ford, who also won a defamation lawsuit in December, is now left with one major legal hurdle. A forensic audit of his campaign financial practices will be released by early February. If the auditors allege that Ford committed serious breaches of the Municipal Elections Act, the city’s compliance committee could vote to hire a special prosecutor to consider non-criminal charges against him. The possible penalties include a fine and removal from office.
Ford has just under two years left in his four-year term. The next regularly scheduled mayoral election will be held on Oct. 27, 2014.
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