Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was cleared today to run again for mayor in a byelection, should one be held ahead of the 2014 municipal election.
Lawyers for Ford, who earlier this week was ordered out of office by Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland in a conflict of interest case, asked the judge to clarify his ruling to clear up confusion about whether the order bars him as a byelection candidate.
At issue was a sentence in paragraph 60 of the judge's original ruling that said: "I decline to impose any further disqualification from holding office beyond the current term."
Ford's lawyer wanted clarification on what was meant by "beyond the current term." The question that had observers confused was: Did the term end when the mayor gave up his seat to comply with the sanction, or did the judge mean the term of office as defined in the Municipal Act, which would mean a term ending in 2014?
On Friday, the judge responded by amending his previous ruling. He deleted the words "beyond the current term" from his original ruling.
That means Ford can seek the mayor's chair if the city opts to hold a byelection ahead of the 2014 municipal election. Council also has the option of appointing a mayor to serve until 2014.
Ford is also applying for a stay of judgment, which will be heard Wednesday. If successful, he would remain mayor until his appeal runs its course.
The ruling to vacate the seat, if a stay application is unsuccessful, would take effect Dec. 10. Ford's appeal of the ruling could be heard as early as Jan. 7.
I was initially unhappy--I would have preferred, and still think I'd prefer, to have had him barred from running this time. Judge Lackland's clarification that Ford could run again may have been inevitable, though, given his stated opinion that Ford's automatic removal from office was too harsh a penalty to deliver automatically. Lackland might not be wrong.
Besides, a by-election where Ford was defintively defeated at the polls is a good thing. In commenting on this, James Nicoll also linked to an article reporting on the latest embarrassing thing Rob Ford did as mayor.
In what could be his last council meeting as Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford got into a shouting match with councillor Adam Vaughan over developer fees on Thursday.
Ford, who was ordered removed from office on Monday for violating municipal conflict of interest rules, became animated during a council debate about a development on Queen Street West.
Ford was upset that developers were asked to pay higher development fees in exchange for area improvements.
"All I'm saying is that looks like a shakedown, call it what you want," Ford shouted at Coun. Adam Vaughan, whose ward includes the site of the proposed development.
"You can not go up to developers and say I want a million dollars when staff says they don't want it. That's a problem ... that's not the way you do business down here."
[. . .]
Vaughan, a left-of-centre councillor who is tipped as a possible mayoral candidate, said everything about the development fees was above board and vetted by city lawyers.
"The mayor has found himself in trouble with his choice of words before, they're inaccurate, they're offensive and they're wrong," he said.
Ford later apologized for his "shakedown" remark but Coun. Karen Stintz said the incident reflects poorly on the city.
"It is embarrassing and I think it does speak to the need that we have as a city to resolve this matter with the mayor and quickly because I don't think we can continue to have the kind of discourse that has happened over the last couple of days."
If, after two years of this sort of thing, Toronto's electorate still decides to re-elect the man, then Ford isn't an anomaly so much as he really is Toronto's choice.