TORONTO – The mayor of the country’s largest city will not have to fight to stay in office while he appeals his ouster for violating conflict of interest laws.
Toronto businessman Paul Magder, who persuaded a judge to order Mayor Rob Ford punted from office, agreed Monday to a stay of the decision pending the appeal.
Magder’s lawyer, Clayton Ruby, said they would nevertheless continue the fight to have Ford thrown out of office.
“By breaking the law in such a flagrant manner, Rob Ford has put this city into unnecessary turmoil,” Ruby said in a statement.
“We are agreeing to this stay to give the city of Toronto a measure of stability, something that has been wholly absent during Mr. Ford’s term in office.”
The Divisional Court, which is expected to hear Ford’s appeal early next month, was slated to hear a stay of the judge’s order on Wednesday.
Even though there will be no opposition, Ford’s spokesman, George Christopoulos, said the mayor’s lawyer would nevertheless have to be in court to formally request the stay.
“We hope the stay is granted,” said Christopoulos, who had no further comment because the matter is before the courts.
Last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ordered Ford out after finding the mayor violated conflict laws by voting at council on a matter in which he had a financial interest.
“It is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the integrity commissioner and the code of conduct,” Hackland said in his ruling.
Hackland did put his decision on hold for 14 days to allow the city to make arrangements to deal with the situation.
The ruling stunned city hall and outraged Ford, who blamed a left-wing conspiracy for his ouster. The mayor immediately said he would run in any byelection if his appeal fails.
Magder said the way Ford and his “proxies” impugned the reputation of the legal system was outrageous.
“One of Ontario’s most respected judges considered in great detail the arguments made on my behalf and that of Mr. Ford before issuing his thoroughly reasoned decision,” Magder said in a statement Monday.
“For Mr. Ford to pretend he is the victim of a ‘left-wing’ political attack is to insult the justice system that is a cornerstone of Canada’s strong and enduring democracy.”
Magder also said he brought the application to protect the city’s municipal government from politicians putting their own interests ahead of the citizens they were elected to serve.
Hackland’s decision also sparked debate about whether Ford could run in a byelection if council — which would have the option of simply appointing an interim mayor — called one should the ouster stand.
On Friday, Hackland issued a clarification to make it clear the mayor could run in a byelection.