Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] Three Torontoist links on the aftermath of Ford's conflict of interest

First off, I'd recommend people interested in some of the events likely to follow Ford's rather noteworthy setback check out Torontoist's infographic post "Rob Ford’s Out of Office: What Happens Next?". It's all flow-charted: the possibilities for appeals, the mechanics for elections or selections, et cetera.

Christopher Bird has a thorough analysis

Ford’s first defence was that the MCIA did not apply to violations of Toronto’s Code of Conduct for members of council. Ford based this on a public-policy argument, namely that the Code of Conduct, as written, does not allow a member under potential sanction for conflict to speak in his or her own defence. Justice Hackland agreed that there might be a procedural fairness issue with preventing councillors from discussing findings that were against them—such as the integrity commissioner’s report that started this whole chain of events—or potential sanctions (on the basis that an individual should have a right, generally, to speak in his or her own defence). But he did not agree that this issue could “provide a basis for restricting clear statutory provisions,” and, more to the point, even if Rob Ford had been allowed to speak in his own defence per the Code of Conduct, that still would not have excused his voting on the matter.

Ford’s second defence involving the inapplicability of the MCIA was that the MCIA was intended to apply to the City’s “business and commercial interests” rather than the ethical conduct of members of council. Hackland disagreed with this as well, pointing out that the MCIA broadly refers to “any pecuniary interest…in any manner” and there was no basis for the court to selectively read “any matter” to exclude Code of Conduct violations. Justice Hackland also noted that limiting the operation of the statutory provision was a constitutional remedy, and that the parties had not raised charter arguments in the proceeding. (This is important, because it potentially limits the ability of Ford to appeal the decision based on the constitutionality of the law.)

Ford’s third defence was that the city council resolution requiring him to reimburse the donors who had contributed to his football foundation was outside council’s powers as per the City of Toronto Act. This argument was based on the wording of the Code of Conduct at Article XVIII, which first states that Council “may impose either of the following penalties” (which are specified as a reprimand or suspension of pay), and then states that the additional penalties the integrity commissioner can recommend (which would include the ordered reimbursement) are outside Council’s powers. Justice Hackland did not agree with this argument about wording, suggesting that the other measures the integrity commissioner can recommend can be considered remedial measures rather than penalties, and further agreed with Magder that the repayment sanction was consistent with the wording of section 6.1 of the City of Toronto Act, which states that the City’s powers shall be interpreted broadly “to enable the City to govern its affairs as it considers appropriate.” (If there is a basis for appeal it is here. It seems Justice Hackland is essentially relying on this section to justify categorizing the integrity commissioner’s penalties as “remedial measures.” This is not to say that Ford’s argument here is strong, as it relies on essentially saying that the law was written with the intent to wholly ignore the integrity commissioner’s penalty powers.)

Once Ford’s arguments that the MCIA was inapplicable were exhausted, Justice Hackland turned to Ford’s arguments that the MCIA did not apply because the amount was insignificant or because his conflict was inadvertent or caused by an error in judgment. Justice Hackland dealt with these arguments more swiftly, noting that Ford’s objections on the record to paying back the money made clear that he did not consider the amount insignificant, that Ford deliberately chose to speak (and gave evidence on this at the trial) and thus inadvertence could not be his defence, and that (probably most damning) Ford’s lack of attendance at briefing sessions, failure to read or familiarize himself with the MCIA, failure to read the councillors’ handbook, and failure to seek out legal advice on this issue amounted to “willful blindness”—which is to say, in essence, that the “incompetence defence” Team Ford seemed to be advancing at trial did not work.

Steve Kupferman, meanwhile, describes Ford's immediate response in the post "Rob Ford Vows to Run Again if Necessary, Then Launches a Toy Drive".

Following Rob Ford’s judicial ouster this morning, the reporters who’d lined up to receive paper copies of the decision (it was not available electronically—we had to put it online ourselves) made the short walk from the University Avenue courthouse to City Hall, to interview whomever they could. First lawyer Clayton Ruby and Paul Magder, the two people who brought the case against Ford, gave a press conference, but Ford was nowhere to be found. And then, about half an hour later, he showed up, and it was weird.

Ford spoke to the press twice this afternoon, both times during hurried scrums outside his office doors on the second floor of City Hall. Neither one lasted more than a couple minutes. The synopsis of the newsworthy bits is basically this: Ford says he will appeal the decision, and that he will run again for his seat if there’s a by-election. We may not need a replacement mayor, though—at least, not immediately. Ford can apply for a stay that could keep him in office until the appeal is over.

[. . .]

The very next thing Ford did after speaking about his historic removal from office was go downstairs to the City Hall rotunda to launch the 2012 edition of the Mayor’s annual toy drive, a pre-Christmas charity drive initiated by Ford’s administration in 2011. There, amid piles of toys, including a Dora the Explorer tricycle and several dollhouse-esque playsets, the mayor gave a prepared speech, then sat down on the floor with several small children, plucked from City Hall’s daycare for the photo op. He spoke a few quiet words to them, told them goodbye, and then ascended the steps to his office and disappeared, once again, behind closed doors.
Tags: democracy, politics, toronto, urban note
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