Mayor Rob Ford 'so happy' top court dismissed conflict of interest appeal
Published Thursday, June 20, 2013 6:25AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:31PM EDT
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he’s been “vindicated” by the Supreme Court of Canada’s refusal to hear an appeal in a conflict of interest case that threatened to remove him from office.
“I’m so happy this is over,” Ford told reporters Thursday, after the top court dismissed the case with costs.
As is customary, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for its decision.
The appeal was launched by Clayton Ruby, the lawyer for Toronto resident Paul Magder, who accused Ford of violating the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and filed a lawsuit against the mayor.
“The entire case was driven by the political agenda of a very small group,” Ford said. “We all know these individuals have open ties to political activists.
“They couldn’t beat me at the polls so they tried everything they could to stop me from moving forward with my agenda.”
The conflict-of-interest controversy began in 2010, when the City of Toronto’s integrity commissioner ruled that Ford abused his position as a councillor at the time by using city letterhead and council resources to fundraise $3,150 for his football foundation.
Council later voted that Ford should repay the money out of his own pocket. But after Ford became mayor, he spoke about the matter in council and voted on a decision that freed him from having to pay back the donations.
Magder filed a lawsuit and Ruby argued in court that Ford was wrong to speak and vote on the issue.
Last November, an Ontario Superior Court judge found Ford had violated the Act and ordered the mayor to leave office. A three-member appeal court overturned that ruling in January.
The panel of judges said that council was acting beyond its authority when it asked Ford to repay the $3,150 that was donated by others.
In his application to the Supreme Court, Ruby said the appeals court erred in its findings, and argued that the council's mistake shouldn't clear Ford of his conflict of interest breach.
Ford said the case took a “significant” financial and emotional toll on his family and caused “months of instability, turmoil and confusion” at city hall.
“Ask yourself: over what?” Ford said. “Raising money to help underprivileged kids to play football.”
He said the suit against him was based on “a loophole in outdated laws – laws which even the premier admits need to be changed.”
Ford did not take any questions from reporters.
Earlier Thursday, Toronto Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said the case was driven by “pure antagonism” and should have never gone to the country’s top court.
“I think (the appeal) didn’t have much of a chance at the outset,” Holyday told CP24. “I think it’s just pure antagonism that drove it. It was just an attempt to keep the matter in the media and to antagonize the mayor even more.
“It should have been dropped and unfortunately it wasn’t.”
Criminal lawyer Mark Halfyard told CTV News Channel Thursday it’s not surprising that Ruby’s appeal was dismissed.
Halfyard said the Supreme Court only heard about 12 per cent of appeals last year and it rarely weighs in on municipal matters, unless they are considered to be of national interest.