Toronto’s normally combative Mayor Rob Ford sounds resigned to the fact that he might be kicked out of office over an alleged conflict of interest.
Appearing on Newstalk 1010 on Tuesday, Ford noted he will be grilled on the stand by renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby a week from Wednesday.
A lawsuit accuses Ford of breaking provincial law by voting in February on the issue of whether he should have to pay back a total of $3,150 to lobbyists, clients of lobbyists, and a corporation whose donations to his football foundation he improperly accepted.
“It really bothers me,” Ford said of the suit brought by Toronto resident Paul Magder, adding his foundation has helped many schools in needy neighbourhoods get equipment to start football programs.
“He’s going to cross-examine me and they want me out of office, and if I lose the court case I guess I lose my job and, uh, I don’t know, it really bothers me, it really bothers me, so just hope for the best.”
If a court finds a councillor took part in a debate or vote despite a conflict of interest, the province’s Municipal Conflict of Interest Act decrees the judge “shall” force him out of office and “may” bar him from rejoining council for up to seven years.
Only if a judge deems the breach an “error of judgment or inadvertence,” or the sum involved too paltry to matter, does he or she have any leeway to let the guilty party remain in office.
Court filings show that Ford’s lawyer, Alan Lenczner, will argue the Act doesn’t apply in this case because Ford’s actions were governed by a council Code of Conduct that falls under another provincial law, the City of Toronto Act.
If Ford was in a conflict, Lenczner argues, Justice Charles Hackland should deem it an “error of judgment or inadvertence.”
If Ford were turfed, council would have two options: to call a mayoral byelection or appoint somebody to replace Ford for the rest of his term.