Alan Lenczner argued before a three-judge panel of an Ontario divisional court Monday that the mayor misinterpreted the law when he voted in favour of a council motion that would have absolved him from an earlier council directive to repay $3,150 in donations made by lobbyists to his football charity.
Lenczner said the mayor had 10 times in the past declared conflict of interest in council matters, and recused himself from voting.
In November, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland found Ford violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and ordered the mayor to vacate his seat on council.
The act does say that violation of conflict of interest rules would result in automatic expulsion from office, save for an error in judgment or if the money involved was too small to be classified a pecuniary amount.
Lenczner cited both provisions in his arguments to the three-judge panel hearing the appeal.
He also argued that city council did not have the power to order Ford to pay back the donations, and that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act only applies when the city or a council member gains money, which he says did not apply in Ford's case.
Moreover, the penalty for violating the act — removal from office — is "draconian" and punishes not only Ford, but the electorate that sent him to office by a margin of 100,000 votes, Lenczner said in a packed courtroom in downtown Toronto.