Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has won a court appeal, which means he will remain mayor.
The appeal to Divisional Court stems from a November decision, in which Justice Charles Hackland found that the mayor had contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when he spoke at a council meeting in February 2012 and then voted on an item that had to do with the use of city resources to solicit donations to his private football charity. The penalty for Ford’s actions, Hackland ruled, was that the mayor would be removed from office.
Ford appealed that decision and was also granted a stay, which allowed him to remain in office until after the appeal. During the appeal hearing, Ford’s lawyer argued that the mayor was an honest man who had made a mistake.
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In the decision, which was released Friday morning, a panel of three judges write that Hackland was wrong: “we conclude that the application judge erred in finding that Mr. Ford contravened the MCIA [Municipal Conflict of Interest Act],” says the judgement.
The judgement found that council didn’t have the authority to make Ford pay back the $3,150 that he has supposedly solicited with the aid of city resources, and which was the topic of debate during the February 2012 meeting. Instead, the judges wrote, council could have considered “reprimand or a suspension of remuneration.”
Now that Ford has won his appeal, he will continue governing at city hall until the next regularly scheduled municipal election, which is in less than two years time, on Oct. 27, 2014.
Clayton Ruby, the lawyer representing Paul Magder, the citizen who brought the case against Ford, said in a statement that he will challenge this decision and will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“We believe that there are serious errors of law in the judgment and we will ask the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal to that court,” lawyer Clayton Ruby said in a statement.
“It must be acknowledged that such appeals are not easy but this remains an important issue for all citizens.”
With a file from The Canadian Press