Bombshell ruling rocks Ford Nation: ‘Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford’

Tamsin McMahon rounds up the news of the day



It was an act of well-timed pathos that embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s first public appearance after being ordered out of office was to continue with a scheduled photo-op for the mayor’s annual Christmas Toy Drive, handing out toys to needy children at the City Hall daycare.

It was, after all, another charitable cause supporting needy children — the mayor’s beloved Rob Ford Football Foundation — that became the seeds of Ford’s political undoing.

In a 24-page ruling delivered Monday morning by fax, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T Hackland found that Ford had broken municipal conflict of interest laws when he solicited $3,150 in donations to his football charity from city lobbyists and their clients while he was still a councilor, had repeatedly refused to repay the money despite an order from the city’s Integrity Commissioner  — and later insisted on casting a vote in council clearing himself of wrongdoing.

Far from a simple error in judgment, Judge Hackland ruled that Ford’s conduct amounted to “a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude,” toward his fellow councilors and the law.

“In my opinion,” the judge wrote, Ford’s “actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to willful blindness.”

Just hours after the bombshell ruling ordering him to clear out his office in the next two weeks, Ford seemed to remain in a state of willful blindness, heading down to the foyer at City Hall in business-as-usual fashion for his Christmas press conference to polite, if perplexed, applause from the gathering crowd.

Minutes earlier, he had dismissed the decision as political maneuvring by his left-wing opponents and vowed to keep his job, court judgment or no court judgment.

“The left wing wants me out of here and they’ll do anything in their power,” he said. “I’m going to fight tooth and nail to hold onto that job and if they do, for some reason get me out, I’ll be running right back at them.”

Whether he does get to keep his job, however, is not exactly up to Ford. The soon-to-be-ex mayor says he plans to appeal the decision in the next 30 days and ask for the judgment against him to be “stayed,” or suspended, allowing him to stay on as mayor until his appeal can be heard.

If an appellate court rejects his request, city council can appoint an interim mayor or call a byelection. If it’s a byelection, Ford pledged that his name will be “the first on the ballot.”

Ford’s opponents, both legal and political, did their best to contain their glee at having successfully removed the controversial mayor from office. “While we’re pleased to have won this case, we’re also saddened by it,” said Clayton Ruby, the high-profile civil rights lawyer who took the lawsuit on pro bono on behalf of Toronto resident named Paul Magder. “It is tragic that the elected mayor of a great city should bring himself to this. I use that language advisedly: Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford.”

While Ford foes took to Twitter to cheer the ruling, within the corridors of City Hall councilors seemed shocked that a court had actually turfed a duly elected mayor over a few thousands dollars worth of sports equipment that, according to Ford, ended up not in his own pocket, but in the hands of underprivileged children.

“I just thought that there might be some consequences for the mayor but I didn’t think it would be this,” a visibly shaken Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said.

“All he had to do was pay back the money,” added Councillor Paula Fletcher. “When he chose not to do that, he chose a different path.”

Councillor Adam Vaughan, one of Ford’s most outspoken critics and long thought to be planning his own run at the mayor’s office, said the mayor-less council now had the task of leading the city away from the fractured partisan politics that defined Ford’s tenure.

“What I know is that we’ve been dealt this situation as a result of [Ford’s] behaviour and as a finding of the judge,” Vaughan said. “I’m not sure the city has got what it deserved, but it’s now incumbent upon us who have been elected to move this city forward, with or without Rob Ford on council in the mayor’s chair.”

While Ford’s political future may be in doubt, his high-school football prospects seem much more assured. Ford will be busy as usual on Tuesday night coaching his Don Bosco Eagles against the Huron Heights Warriors for the Metro Bowl, local high school football’s version of the Super Bowl.

Indeed, Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, urged the mayor’s fans to come to the playoff as a way of showing their support. “This is a man that cares, a man that is the most honest politician I have ever seen in this country,” Doug Ford said. “You want to support Rob? Come to the [game] tomorrow.” If only winning a football championship were enough to save the day.


Bombshell ruling rocks Ford Nation: ‘Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford’

  1. Removing him from office is a contumacious travesty by the judge. Punish him with a fine or some flavour of censure but let him get on with solving city problems. This is just a preposterous diversion citizens of Toronto do not need.

    • Close but no cigar, friend. It comes as the result of a contumacious travesty. Named Rob Ford.

    • Fines are not an option under the law. He’s either innocent, or he’s out. Unfortunately, as the judge extensively lays out in his decision, Rob left no leeway for innocent by his own actions.

    • That’s so cute, the part where you imagine that Rob Ford would “get on with solving city problems”.

    • There is no provision for that under this law, and he should have been aware of what was at stake. Especially since the amount is relatively insignificant for a millionaire. Despite attempts at blaming everyone else, Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford.

    • The judge followed the law – which prescribes only a single punishment. Have you read the decision? Judge Hackland was clearly uncomfortable with rendering this sentence. But laws are laws – judges are not allowed to just make it up.

      • I didn’t know the judge had no other recourse. The law should be changed. This is too harsh.

  2. The closest comparison to this sentence of Ford by this Judge after the witch hunt by Clayton and the downtown lefties is the threat and the carrying out by 3 opposition parties to censure the ruling Minority Conservative government in Ottawa as being in contempt of Parliament.
    I don`t need to remind you how that turned out for the opposition in the following Election.

    This is stupid and silly game-playing by the downtown lefties in Toronto and the voters are going to make sure someone pays for this and It`s not going to be Rob Ford.

    • Which is why Giorgio Mammoliti jumped ship within hours of the verdict because “his constituents demanded it”, right?

      To be honest, I suspect there wont be another election until 2014. If Rob Ford can keep people interested until then, good luck to him. Especially if Doug Holyday is made the caretaker and proves to be effective.

      • Mammoliti is the most opportunistic disingenuous m_____-f______ on city council. I actually truly laughed out loud when I saw him jumping ship.

    • Andrew obviously you support Ford as I have read your previous posts but you honestly need to take a step back for a second. He solicited money from lobbyists and their clients. That constitutes a conflict of interest, plain and simple. We cannot not have elected officials asking lobbyists for money under any circumstance. It creates mistrust and forever taints any future endeavour that is tabled. Yes, it did go to a charitable cause, but he should have quashed it all by reimbursing the money and then deduct it as a tax credit. He could have silenced everyone by doing this but instead he fought and lost. He also went as far as voting in his favour…again a conflict. Once is a fluke, twice is a trend. Dare I even mention he comandeered a tax payer provided bus to transport his football team.
      He may have done great work for the city but unfortunately his misgivings outweigh his good deeds. A simple sorry and here is the money and all would have been well.

      • I would support a mayor who would try to clean up the spending mess that was happening in Toronto. There are a few things about Ford that make him somewhat ineffective. I was hoping he would have one 4 year term where some balance in the finances could be achieved.
        However this blatant attempt to hound Ford is going to backfire on the Star ( you would think Ford was manufacturing WMD`s in his basement from their hatchet jobs ) and other opponents of his. He can win the next election easily now.

        • What if say, Adam Vaughan or David Miller had used their office stationery to ask lobbyists for donations to a charity that say, promotes transgendered rights? (To use an obtuse example.) And then voted against having themselves repay the money. At one point do you decide that it’s okay to break the letter of the law as long the intentions were good?

          • You know exactly what would have happened. The same people defending Ford on the basis that it was “for the kids” would be screaming for blood, led by Sue-Ann Levy and the Ford brothers. You can’t choose which laws you want to follow, at least not if you want to remain mayor. A small part of me actually feels bad for Robbie, because I honestly think that he doesn’t understand what he’s done wrong. He’s proven that he’s not very adept at learning from mistakes, so even if he gets back in, we shouldn’t expect this to have taught him anything about humility or the importance of doing things the right way.

    • When conservatives are guilty of wrongdoing it’s never their fault. They always look to blame someone else for their actions. They strongly believe in personal responsibility. Just as long as it’s the other guy…

    • I have yet to hear either Ford brother, or any of their supporters acknowledge the fact that this crisis was 100% self-inflicted. He acted as though he was above the law, because he’s been able to get away with that type of behaviour for most of his life. If he had just done what the integrity commissioner had asked him to do SIX TIMES, all of the “downtown lefties” in the world couldn’t have done a thing to him. At what point will he, and his supporters, take some sort of responsibility? This would never have happened to Doug Holyday or John Tory or even Stephen Harper – all conservatives. They at least know how to follow procedures. It’s not about a political witch hunt. It’s about a grown man with significant responsibilities, who behaves as though he is a law unto himself – and he’s not.

  3. I have no opinion on Rob Ford (new to Toronto). What I find HILARIOUS – with all the corrupt/taxpayer money stealing politicians in Canada, this guy gets canned for raising $3k for a kids sports charity? Wow, guess the powers that be wanted him gone. Voters not important.

    • The law is the law is the law. He broke it. He had so many chances to fix the situation but stubbornly wouldn’t.

  4. I’m sorry but I find this rediculous. The man was raising money for charity. The money was not going to him. Politicians steal money all the time. And the comments about breaking the law. Well, politicians break the law all the time. American’s break the law all the time when they invade a country. Give me a break. Certain powers did not want Rob Ford to stay as mayor, because they could not bully their way through city hall. I’m sure there are lots of shadying dealings going around city hall that have attempted to rid Mayor Ford from his post. Lots of businesses and interest groups wanted him removed because they did not get their way anymore.
    Just think about it. Why have there been so many attempts to get him out of office. Let the man do his job, after all, the citizens of Toronto voted him in. Period!

    • It’s not about the money, and it’s not about the “kids”. It’s about the consequences that arise from not following the rules. It’s that simple. I can’t stand Rob Ford, but it’s not good for the city that he put himself in this position. He had SEVERAL opportunities to just pay the money back, but he always chooses to be stubborn, and act as though rules don’t apply to him. The judge didn’t have any choice in this case as he clearly violated the law. He is his own worst enemy. If he were better at picking his battles, he could have continued to thumb his nose at “the left” (which seems to comprise anyone that doesn’t agree with him) all the way to the next election. Instead, he engineered his own downfall.

      • I agree that he is subborn, but when you look at the punishments of other mayors that have done worse things, its laughable. The mayor of the City of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, voted on decisions which made her son’s company millions. And what did she get, nothing, a slam on the wrist. Why didn’t she get the boot from office? Seems like this law applies differently to different people. Very grey area, kind of like the foreign takeover rules for Canada. It gives the government the power to make the rules as they see fit.

        • I’m not in any way defending Hazel McCallion, and I even think that the current conflict-of-interest law could use some refining so as to give judges more options with regards to sanctions. As it currently it stands, it’s pretty much nothing or lose your job. Fines or official cenusre are two examples of other punishments that could be meted out.

          None of that matters for the time being, because the law is what it is, and elected officials are bound by it. Ford should have known better and taken steps to prevent it from ever going this far. I’ve never liked his style, and he’s not a guy that I would ever vote for, but this is bad for Toronto. Even for opponents of Ford, there is nothing to celebrate here. Council has been thrown into disarray, we could be on the hook for a by-election costing millions, and the “Ford Nation’s” victim complex has gone into overdrive.

          My mother used to always tell us as kids that “You can’t be wrong, and strong”, and too often Ford has been just that. There have been so many times when a softer approach, or even an apology could have made his life easier, but his default reaction is to always dig in his heels and refuse to budge. Whether fortunately, or unfortunately, he’s largely managed to get away with it until now, when that approach backfired on him in pretty much the worst way possible.

          I just read the apology he released today, and frankly, if he had taken that tone with the integrity commissioner, or in court, he might still have a job. I almost feel sorry for him, because I think that he might honestly believe that he didn’t do anything wrong, and that he was “just helping kids play football”.

          Now the city is more divided than ever, with his supporter up in arms over what is being described as a “socialist plot” (it’s not, that’s ridiculous), and council has to operate under a cloud of uncertainty.

          Again, I don’t support the mayor, I don’t believe in his ideology, or his vision for the city. But this is no victory for his opponents, just like it was not a grand conspiracy to oust him. This is merely the result of a grown man, who should have known better, who operates on a set of internalized principles that he seems incapable of overriding, even when sticking to them comes at a great personal cost. While Ford supporters may not believe it, as much as they don’t want to see him lose his job in this fashion, there are many of us on the other side, who admittedly for different reasons, feel the same way.

    • Of his own free and voluntary will, he chose to vote on a matter that specifically concerned himself. This is a conflict of interest, and it is against Ontario’s laws to vote on a matter where you have a conflict of interest. The sole punishment prescribed by that law is removal from office. As the article says, “Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford.”

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