Could Mayor Ford be forced out of office? Legally, no
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013 2:18PM EDT
As questions regarding drug allegations against Rob Ford continue to swirl, calls for the Toronto mayor to resign are mounting.
But can Ford be forced out of office? “Not legally,” says municipal lawyer John Mascarin.
“Once you’re in -- and I believe this is the case in most jurisdictions in Canada -- you can’t be removed unless under circumscribed instances.”
Mascarin told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that elected municipal officials can only be removed from office if they’re in violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, if they’ve violated campaign financing laws, or if they are incarcerated.
“You have very little ability as an elector, as a city council, or as any other elected official to say ‘we need to remove this man,’ ” Mascarin said.
City council does have the ability to call a judicial inquiry into cases of misconduct, Mascarin said, which would see a Superior Court justice investigate the matter. However, he said, even the judge appointed to the inquiry wouldn’t have the power to remove Ford from office.
“It’s almost a symbolic sort of thing because the judge only has powers to make findings, to reach conclusions and then to make recommendations,” Mascarin said.
Toronto councillor and budget chief Frank Di Giorgio says it’s too early to for council to begin raising the issue a judicial inquiry.
“We have to understand that the mayor has his own way of dealing with problems,” Di Giorgio told CP24. “Here, we’re dealing with a personal problem, potentially, and I think we should give the mayor some additional leeway to deal with the problem at his own rate.”
Di Giorgio said the controversy surrounding Ford has been exacerbated because the mayor’s office is “grossly understaffed” -- a situation that worsened in the last week with the mayor’s chief of staff being fired and two of his spokespeople resigning.
“I think we’ve reached the bottom,” Di Giorgio said Wednesday. “Mayor Ford and his office has been understaffed for time some … hopefully we will see some changes that will improve the situation here on in.”
Meanwhile, a rally is being planned for Saturday at Nathan Phillips Square.
The event -- called “Stand Up for Toronto: Let’s Demand Rob Ford’s Resignation” -- is scheduled to take place at noon outside of city hall.
Calls for the mayor’s resignation have been mounting since reports emerged that say the mayor was allegedly recorded on video smoking from what appeared to be a glass pipe. The existence or content of the video has not been verified by CTV News.
Ford broke his silence about the alleged video on Friday, eight days after reporters from U.S. gossip website Gawker and the Star each claimed to have seen it.
The mayor said he does not smoke crack cocaine and he could not comment on a video that does not exist.