Outside court, Ford vows to ‘keep fighting for taxpayers’
Published Monday, January 7, 2013 8:12AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 7, 2013 5:22PM EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is an honest politician who was wrongly ousted from office, his lawyer argued Monday in a packed Ontario courtroom where a three-judge panel is hearing Ford’s appeal of the verdict.
Lawyer Alan Lenczner argued that Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland made “substantial and significant errors of law” when he ruled in November that Ford violated conflict of interest rules by participating in a council debate and vote on his use of office letterhead to solicit $3,150 in donations for a private football foundation.
Hackland ruled that Ford must be removed from office, but the mayor was granted a stay of the order by Ontario Divisional Court Justice Gladys Pardu, who cited the potential harm to Ford's reputation and political uncertainty that would ensue if she didn't.
Lenczner argued Monday that city council never had the power to demand Ford repay the donations in question.
Ford was only being upfront when he told council that he was trying to help disadvantaged youth through the football foundation and he gained no personal financial benefit, Lenczner said.
“He was perfectly plain and honest. That’s the hallmark of an honest man,” he said.
Lenczner also told the court that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act does not apply to city councillors’ code of conduct.
Clayton Ruby -- the lawyer representing the man who launched the conflict-of-interest complaint against Ford, Paul Magder – argued the opposite and said council had power to make Ford pay back the $3,150.
After arguments wrapped up for the day, Ford briefly addressed reporters outside court, but refused to comment on the day’s proceedings.
“I’m going to keep fighting for taxpayers. I’ve got a lot of phone calls I’ve got to go home and make right now and a lot of emails I’ve got to respond to,” he said. “And I just want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support.”
If Ford loses his appeal and is ushered out of the mayor's office, Toronto city councillors will have 90 days to decide whether to call a by-election to choose his successor.
Alternately, council could appoint someone, including Ford, to serve as interim mayor until the entire city heads back to the polls in October 2014.
"If that's what council decides, that's what they decide. Obviously, that would save a lot of money," Ford said Friday.
When asked whether he'd rather be reappointed mayor or win the job back at the ballot box, Ford said, "Regardless of what happens, I guarantee I'll be running in the next municipal election: either be it a byelection or be it the 2014 election, I guarantee my name will be on that ballot for mayor."
Before court proceedings got underway Monday morning, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said if Ford loses the appeal, he and others "will be trying to organize an appointment for Rob."
Talking to CP24 reporter Katie Simpson, Holyday said: "If councillors would set aside politics and look at the fairness of the situation, listen to what the judges have said ... I think they'll arrive at the same conclusion I have."
When he was asked to comment, Ford's brother City Councillor Doug Ford cautioned they would "cross that bridge" when they come to it.
In the meantime, he said, they are focused on the appeal process now underway.
It's unclear how long the Divisional Court panel -- comprised of Regional Senior Justice Edward Then, Justice Lynne Leitch, and Justice Katherine Swinton -- will take to reach their decision on Ford's appeal.
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