TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s lawyer has attacked a judge’s ruling that ousted him from office.
Alan Lenczner is making a series of technical arguments to a three-judge appeal panel in hopes of keeping Ford in his job.
Among other things, the lawyer says council had no power to order Ford to repay money he had solicited for his private football foundation.
As a result, Ford should not have been penalized for taking part in the vote on whether he should have paid up.
In November, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ruled Ford violated conflict of interest laws by voting.
But Lenczner noted Hackland found that Ford had not received any money personally and there was no issue of corruption.
The vote in question was whether the mayor should repay $3,150 he had solicited from lobbyists for his football foundation using official city letterhead.
By law, the only options open to council were to reprimand Ford or dock him pay, Lenczner told the panel of judges in a packed courtroom.
As a result, ordering the mayor to pay back the money that went to the football foundation when he was a councillor was out of order, the lawyer said.
Lenczner also said Hackland had misread an earlier ruling on which he relied in deciding he had no choice but to remove Ford from office.
“He took it completely out of context,” the lawyer said of Hackland’s reliance on a particular passage.
He also said the judge confused the city’s code of conduct and the municipal conflict of interest act under which Ford was ousted.
“Conflict we all understand,” Lenczner said.
“Conduct is quite something else.”
Hackland’s decision on an action by businessman Paul Magder sent shockwaves through the city.
Magder, and his lawyer Clayton Ruby, said the ruling showed no one was above the law and that Ford had wilfully violated the integrity act.
Ruby is to outline his arguments later Monday as why Hackland’s ruling should stand.
If Ford loses his appeal, he says he’ll run in a byelection if council chooses to call one.
Council could opt to appoint someone mayor.