Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[URBAN NOTE] "Mayor Ford’s removal arose from bad law, even judge agrees"

Writing for Postmedia News, columnist Christie Blatchford takes issue with Ford's removal from office.

(The title of the article, incidentally, is misleading. As Blatchford admits further in the article, the judge did not disagree with the idea of a law dealing with conflicts of interest, or even with the idea of punishing politicians who by their actions violate laws dealing with potential conflicts of interest. The judge simply didn't think that having mandatory expulsion from office as the only punishment offered by the law.)

As the judge said, [Ford's] speaking and voting “was far from the most serious breach,” but removal is mandatory unless the breach was inadvertent or by reason of an error in judgment.

Ford’s own testimony at trial made it clear it wasn’t inadvertent (he said he came to that meeting with the intention of speaking, on principle if you like) or an error in judgment (or that if it was, it was his fault for either not knowing or ignoring the rules). Besides, the judge said, Ford showed “a stubborn sense of entitlement and a dismissive and confrontational attitude” to the integrity boss and council’s code of conduct.

The mandatory removal required — under Section 10.1 of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act — makes the statute an ass, as the judge himself acknowledged.

It “is a very blunt instrument and has attracted justified criticism and calls for legislative reform,” the judge said.

[. . .]

Had Judge Hackland been looking for an out — to address what he pretty plainly agrees is a bad law — his best bet was Section 4 (k) of the statute, which says that removal doesn’t apply if the pecuniary interest “is so remote or insignificant in its nature that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence the member.”

But the judge found that what the Mayor said at that meeting where he shouldn’t even have been speaking revealed “his pecuniary interest…was of significance to him” and the 4 (k) exemption didn’t apply.
Tags: democracy, politics, toronto, urban note
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