Is Rob Ford just too honest?

The re-election campaign, should it be required, starts with a lawyer’s argument about the mayor’s character

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves a courtroom on Jan. 7, 2013. (Chris Young/CP)

Another month, another day in court with Rob Ford. His whole mayoralty has been very edifying for the City Hall press corps in this regard. Once every month or so, off everybody troupes to some stately courtroom, mayor in tow, to watch him sit glumly in the front row as lawyers argue about this thing or that thing that Rob Ford has done. This was his third court session. Really, it’s a field trip for everybody.

Yesterday, the Toronto mayor’s appeal of the decision that kicked him out of office was heard in front of a divisional court. The day after, he is still mayor, and will be until the court decides on his appeal, which it promised to do as quickly as it can. Going in, the punditariat had predicted a rehash of the conflict-of-interest trial that rendered a damning verdict against him. What we got instead was a launch few were expecting–the debut of Rob Ford: Honest Man.

The mayor was kicked out of office for breaching Ontario’s strict conflict-of-interest laws by speaking out in council against having to repay a few thousand dollars in donations to his football charity. (The money had been solicited in ways that broke the city’s integrity rules.) Then, to make matters worse, he voted against giving the money back. His political foes saw an opportunity and sued. A trial followed in October and once Justice Charles Hackland found that Ford has indeed broken the provincial Conflict of Interest Act, the penalty was automatic and written into law: removal from office.

In court this week, Ford’s team had to demonstrate that Hackland had made errors in his ruling. This is a tall order. Ford’s lawyer–the spry, venerable Alan Lenczner–did have one big advantage: The mayor himself was not speaking this time; his extraordinarily single-minded performance on the stand in the last trial did not advance his case at all.

Many of the arguments were as arcane as you could hope. (How many high-school football players can dance on the head of a pin?) For hours, Ford’s team tried to prove that, contrary to the original ruling, Toronto’s council overstepped its authority when it penalized Ford for his football-charity solicitations. This argument variously had Ford’s lawyer discussing pesticide spraying in Quebec and the legal status of a pile of dirt in British Columbia. On and on it went.

But then Lenczner did something unexpected. At the first trial, Lenczner stuck mostly to the law. This week, however, he launched into a defence of Ford’s character so broad and so media-friendly, it wouldn’t have seemed out of place on the Ford brothers’ bombastic radio show. Trying to discredit the ruling that Ford hadn’t made his conflict-of-error in good faith, Lenczner pronounced that Ford’s decision to get up in council and decry the decision to have him repay the money wasn’t belligerence, but rather a token of his straightforwardness in self-defence.

“He made no bones about it,” said Lenczner, growing much more animated than he was when discussing the pile of dirt. “He got up and spoke to it. He was perfectly plain and honest. This is the hallmark of an honest man!”

After playing a video of Ford blustering through his speech at council, his lawyer returned to the theme.

“Is that the demeanour of someone who is trying to hide something, or is it the demeanour of an honest man?” By now, he was practically hopping about behind his lectern in agitation. “And do we want to throw out a mayor who was elected by the people because he voted on one occasion?” And later still: “It’s not as though he was being belligerent! It’s not as if he was being obstinate!”

Technically speaking, there are problems with pinning a defence on Rob Ford’s honesty, starting with the fact that he’s been caught in several very public lies, like the times he denied being ejected from the Air Canada Centre or arrested in Florida, before being caught out. What’s more, arguing that his willingness to plunge into a blatant conflict-of-interest is a token of his worthiness is a particularly bold move.

But the “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” defence is exactly how the public is predisposed to see this case. The moral core of this case is what the public will be deciding on, should it come to them. Ford may not be a compulsive truth-teller, but he does have the benefit of genuinely held convictions, which is an honesty of sorts. He is a very consistent man: consistent in outlook, consistent in values, consistent in the wild inconsistencies he needs to promote his values (Save money, but build subways at any cost! Avoid waste, but waste money to cancel things!). People get simplicity and honesty mixed up all the time.

It was as if Lenczner was arguing the case in two courts at once: One for the panel of three judges hearing the case at the moment and one for the court of public opinion, which will take the case up if Ford loses his job. The court may or may not buy the argument; prognostications about the verdict rely on the mug’s game of reading into the judges’ facial expressions and mercurial questions. But if the result is not in Ford’s favour, and he has to pitch for his job again, the stage is set. The last honest politician? How very appealing.




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Is Rob Ford just too honest?

  1. Conservatives have seen that they can do as they please and the long arm of the law can’t get them. That’s why the federal Conservatives could violate election funding laws and get away with only a slap on the wrist. With the recent SCC decision on voting irregularities being trivial and should not change the outcome of electoral result, the Conservatives now will be even bolder. Ford is just a practising Conservative who believes that he is above the law. Let’s just see if the court agrees with him.

  2. Rob Ford must be honest. His $700 per hour lawyer and his brother both say so. Let’s ask his mother what she thinks.

    • he helps more black youth than anyone in the entire city.

      • I believe Doug Ford’s quote about his brother that contained a claim like that was actually more to the effect that Rob Ford did more to help black youth than anyone, anywhere, ever. I recall he also claimed that Rob Ford was the most honest politician anywhere within recent memory.
        Hilariously ridiculous, both claims…

        • seems legit.

          • Oh definitely. Along with the fact according to Rob Ford that absolutely everyone he ever speaks to only utters statements like “we want more subways” and “stop the gravy train” and “thanks for the awsome job you’re doing” etc.

          • yep, the “people of Toronto” are behind him. 35-40% of them, at least.

    • Have you looked at the alligator shoes on Clayt Ruby?

  3. I don’t believe the legal issues in this case ever revolved around questions about Ford’s honesty or lack thereof. He’s a man-child who is honest in the same way as an 8 year old when caught out with irrefutable evidence of a misdeed. As with an 8 year old, we get defiance, then stubborn sulking, then about 15 minutes worth of feigned contrition.

    What he really needs is protection from his own immature impulses.

    • And with the leftoid Millerite lunatics who are after him we get defiance, then stubborn sulking, then no contrition, then an 8 hour naked rainbow parade that takes the garbage collectors three days to clean up after.

      • And how many of them have ended up in court (repeatedly) because of their own flagrant incompetence?

        • hey neuro
          It’s tough trying to illustrate your point with appeals to reality and facts. The modern right think these concepts are elitist and therefore worthy of derision. The Sot is even worse than most of the knuckledraggers you’ll encounter in that they are actually proud of their ignorance and view it as a badge of honour. Levant and others are like this too.
          It’s all about trolling and trying to get folk off topic; honest dialogue is beyond the experience of such PMO cannon fodder as the Harper base.

          • Attention Hair Ball – see above (below?) message to ” Dog Food Neurotic”

          • quod erat demonstrandum.

          • Indeed

          • Spoken like a true leftoid, totally devoid of any shred of reality.

          • I’m not the one in court fighting for my job.
            Real enough for you?

          • The leftist Toronto councilors could not accept that their candidate lost, so they are trying any means possible to overturn the electorates choice for mayor. The underhanded malicious way they went about it should raise the possibility of civil action by Ford against all of them. Over donations to a charity of which he has/had no personal gain, get real.

            Ford will win.

          • You speak but nothing that makes sense comes out.
            This is an appeal, it would take judicial activism to change the verdict; something I always thought the right was against.

        • Well almost 400,000 people voted for Rob Ford because of his desire to clean up the left wing cesspool at City Hall, and your remark proves my point.

          The left lunatics on council know why he won and show consistent defiance of the 385,000 folks who voted for him..

          These court cases are nothing more than the leftoid wackos taking off their parade clothes and wagging their weenies at the taxpayers.

          And from what I can see it ain’t working. The 385,000 folks who voted for him love the guy and the only nay sayers are the handful of 15 or 20 “Hair Balls” and “Neurotics” who plague these forums; plus Gord Perks (get out, get out, get out of my chamber!) and Joe Scuzzy Face Mihevic

          When the full electoral force of Rob Ford’s 350 pounds of serious effort to clean up the City comes down, there will be nothing left of the “left” but a grease spot.

          • So you’re saying that the court that convicted Ford is part of a left-wing conspiracy, too?

            BTW, being elected by 385,000 voters in a city of millions isn’t a ticket to behave like an idiot, accountable to no one and conducting himself by looney-tune rules only he apparently understands.

          • You’re away with the fairies. This is no “conspiracy,” what these clowns are up to is completely wide open and it’s lawful.

            But those Millerite fruitcakes hate this man. “Hate” is a well recognized left wing character defect. Over on this side of the spectrum we don’t “hate” people we think clowns like say, Gord Perks are ridiculous, preposterous and worthy of scorn. But we don’t “hate” a pathetic thing like Gord Perks, we feel sorry for him. I personally laugh at him uproariously, he’s goofy.

            In addition BTW, it’s my understanding that no Mayor in the history of the City has ever received as many as 385,000 votes; and that my simple little friend is a significant thing.

          • So it doesn’t matter a rat’s a$$ what you believe “the left” thinks of
            Ford; the courts independently found the village
            idiot you so blindly idolize guilty of a conflict. At the very least,
            he’s guilty of utter stupidity for allowing himself to be trapped in so
            many legal entanglements. He shouldn’t even be trusted with scissors.
            He’s a menace to himself, let alone the citizens of Toronto.

          • Doggy, Doggy settle down, you’re frothing at the mouth there boy.

            What you should do is this. Borrow 75 cents from one of your friends and buy some relaxation.

            Pop 75 cents into one of Miller’s $400,000 pay toilets; sneak in there for an hour, and just relax. You have no idea how easy it is to unwind in one of those things. They’re like a spa on the Riviera.

            Rob is guilty of nothing, he’s a decent guy trying to help underpriviledged kids.

            I realize you have difficulty viewing Rob Ford with the proper perspective because Rob’s views on helping young kids are in complete contradistinction with those of a man like Rub House Jack, who you “blindly idolize.”

          • I’m may be frothing at the mouth but you’re in total denial. The hapless doofus you uncritically defend is guilty of conflict of interest according to one court of law and, when another court is through with him shortly, he may well be guilty of financing irregularities in his election, as well. Face it, your hero shouldn’t be allowed to cut his own food, go near revolving doors, or try to step on moving escalators. He’s a danger to himself.

            “Helping underprivileged kids” (boy, that’s a tired meme) doesn’t give him or anybody else a license to flout the rules of office or break the law.

            BTW, I don’t idolize the late Jack Layton any more than you idolize the late Joe Stalin.

          • As usual, your understanding is completely wrong. A Google search which took me all of 0.48 seconds indicates that in 1997 Mel Lastman got 387,848 votes. In 2010 Ford got 383 501. While this may come as a bit of a shock to you, just saying something does not actually make it true.

          • “Over on this side of the spectrum we don’t “hate”. Oh really? The only person who believes you is yourself.

            Hate: “to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward.

            Your words: “clowns” “Millerite fruitcakes” “ridiculous, preposterous and worthy of scorn” ” leftoid Millerite lunatics” “left lunatics” “left wing cesspool” “leftoid wackos” “leftoid scatterbrains” “two-bit twerp like Perks”

            Clearly the language of hate.

          • WRONG – Clearly the language of well deserved poetic ridicule.

            Every time I picture in my mind’s eye that little pompous jackass Gord Perks shouting “Get out, get out, get out of my chamber” and trying to mount poor old George’s shoulder at the same time; every time I think of that buggy burlesque moment I laugh my a$$ off.

            Most people that I know, when they go to a circus and watch the clowns they don’t come out “hating” the clowns.

            Hate is the exclusive domain of the humourless left, so don’t project your own lunatic specialty on me

          • Yes, my apologies. You truly are a master poet of ridicule. Well done!

          • What about the majority of Toronto voters who voted for anyone but Ford for mayor? Is the fact that one is voted into office by a plurality of voters a free pass for the official to disregard or violate whatever law or policy applies to his/her position and/or conduct, lest the rule of law interfere with a democratic electoral outcome?

          • Since the people you’re talking about obtain all their electoral advice, from NOW Magazine, I have to tell you chief, I don’t think they should even be allowed to vote.

          • So where do you get yours? SUN TV?

          • No, I’ve decided I don’t want any more media filtered BS, so for the last few months I’ve made sure to pick up the Mayor’s Sunday radio program on AM1010 where Rob and Doug, along frequently with Francis Nunziata speak directly to what’s going at City Hall.

            The three of them, the Ford’s and Francis Nunziata are all good radio announcers and interviewers. They discuss all the issues with City department heads; the public housing, the plastic bags, the expressway, the subways, the bicycle lanes. Denzil Minan Wong is on there frequently to talk about the City’s infrastructure. They’ve had Jerry Reinsdorf on there to talk about the Bulls and the White Sox. They’ve had corporate executives from BMO and Oxford properties to discuss how the City should be going. They’ve talked with Mike Layton about his charity.They’ve had New York cops on there talking about their youth programs.

            No where at any time have politicians made such an effort to keep people informed and to get voter input. You can call them on the phone and ask them what the hell they’re doing.

            It’s a first class well produced, entertaining radio show and anyone who doesn’t pick it up cannot know what is really going on at City Hall.

  4. People get simplicity and honesty mixed up all the time.

    In other words, Ford isn’t honest – he’s simple.

  5. An appeals case will only overturn the original verdict if there was an error in law. Whether the Mayor is a good guy, kisses babies or is the opposite shouldn’t enter into it. The only question these judges can consider is the correct application of the law. Judging by this line of argument even Ford’s own legal team know the law was applied correctly.
    It’s strange how many “law and order” Conservatives really have no idea about the law when it comes down to it.

    • The Divisional Court appeal of a case involving the removal of an elected official is somewhat diffferent from what you might be used to.

      In the end it will be interesting to see if the court has the balls to disenfranchise 385,000 voters over this matter. The amount is clearly inconsequential, the mayor’s vote did not change the outcome, and Ford’s understanding of the definition of conflict of interest clearly differed from the “learned judge.” That is Ford did not understand a picayune rule that everyone disagrees with and that on its own should get him off.

      • It’s not that he didn’t understand it, he was advised of the problem and he chose not to understand it. As the vote was overwhelming and probably would have been known to have been so prior to the meeting he should have followed the advice he was given. He didn’t and a clear conflict of interest occurred.

        The punishment for such an offence is draconian in the extreme, but that is the rule as written now; so is the system within which folk are forced to work. Any disenfranchising is as a result of Ford’s inability to listen to people who knew the rules and the arrogance to think he knew better even though he admits to not reading the councillor’s handbook. His arrogance and pig-headedness caused us to arrive at this situation even when many people tried to help him avoid it.

        • The application brought against the Mayor was related to a Council Meeting in February 2012. At that meeting neither the City Solicitor nor the integrity Commissioner nor the Speaker advised the Mayor that he would be in violation of the conflict statute for speaking or voting.

          So sorry buddy but you’re WRONG and you’re spewing misinformation. The Mayor was given no such advice at that Council meeting.

          • Where you get the Feb date from is beyond me, but the conflict of interest case he was nailed in concerned the August meeting. So it’s you who is wrong; 25th August prior to the discussion Bussin did warn Ford that he was in potential conflict of interest. (Court documents detailing reasons for the decision clearly state. See point 6 here http://www.scribd.com/doc/114454163/Rob-Ford-Conflict-of-Interest-Decision)

            Now I have court documents from the case he is appealing against backing up my position, do you have anything other than wishful thinking back up yours buddy?

          • Hare Ball you’re pathetic. Everything is “beyond you.”

            Read the very first page of the thing you sent me, Item [1]

            Rob Ford was not the Mayor in August 2010. And that, like it or not, MAY be an important matter in his Appeal before a 3 Judge panel. And that’s why Super Clayt and his sucky little NDP muppet puppet applied to have him removed for what he did at a meeting in February 2012.

            I’ll tell you what the problem is. Guys like you and me, have been raised up in a sick society and no one has EVER told you that you might be wrong:

            All you’ve ever heard is, “Oh look at little Hare Ball, isn’t he cute?”
            To which the response is, “Oh my yes and he’s so smart.”

            The stuff I got was, ” Oh look at little Sot, isn’t he cute?
            To which my old man would dutifully respond, “Oh yah, he’s cute, but as soon as he gets this big Musky into the boat he’s going to get a lesson or two.”

            Over the last 50 years we’re all being screwed over by 300 pound OISE trained lesbian kindergarten teachers, metaphorically speaking. And the result is sickening.

            Rob Ford got screwed over on a very minor thing by Ruby’s judge; there were lots of ways to let him loose without killing him. Ford clearly did not believe he had a conflict, who the f**k would vote to put themselves here. And if this decision is upheld by a three judge panel, and it might very well be, our democracy is in very big trouble. In my humble opinion.

            But no one warned him off at that meeting in Feb 2012 and his vote was meaningless..

          • Never had a 300lb teacher in my life and as for their sexual proclivities no idea. Given that my teachers and other adults around me were from the military, strangely enough I never heard anything about being wonderful and fluffy either. Although I once was described as a cunning little s**t. From what I gather this might be NCO speak for fluffy. It was the closest I ever came to getting a compliment as a nipper anyway.

            So in 2010 Cllr Ford was made aware that speaking and voting on a matter that concerned him was in fact a conflict of interest. In 2012 Mayor Ford is now a completely different person and obviously has no connection with the fellow who was Cllr Ford, now has no recollection that speaking to and voting on a motion that concerns oneself is a conflict of interest. Is that what you are claiming? The Mayor can’t remember procedural rules he was made aware of in a prior encounter?

            Are you sure this guy is able to run a major metropolitan centre with the memory issues he clearly has?

          • Am I sure he can run the place? …… I’m positive he can. And I know we need him because down on that council are 20 or so leftoid scatterbrains like you.

            1. You cannot see that a clear distinction exists in Magdar’s legal action between the events that took place in August 2010 and those that took place in February 2012 even after the differences are pointed out to you.

            2. You don’t know the difference between a REAL 300 pound OISE kindergarten teacher and a METAPHORICAL 300 pound OISE kindergarten teacher.

            3. When RSM HareBall, God bless him and thank him, called you “cunning” you failed to recognize the difference between “HareBall you’re cunning”- handshake and “HareBall you’re cunning” – eye roll.

            So Rob Ford was elected to deal with the leftoid morons that 385,000 voters were completely and totally sick of and he’s doing a great job against enormous odds. And our society and our freedom is in great peril if the Osgoode Hall Courts start disenfranchising the electorate by removing elected officials over bullsh*t like this. And I hold the same opinion if it was happening to a two-bit twerp like Perks.

          • He hasn’t done much so far except coach a football team and run a radio programme, most of his other initiatives seem to have either failed or not really panned out fully.
            You blind faith in the man is however noteworthy.

          • Even if all he’s done is coach that team, I’ll take that over $200 million of failing cement and closed businesses on St. Clair; over batteries of $400,000 French Riviera pay toilets and over matched pairs of leftoid lunatic councillors fleecing the social welfare housing sytem and preventing poor desperate people from finding a place to live.

          • Oh, the poetry!

      • Rob Ford disenfranchised himself.

  6. Whether or not his heart is in the right place is irrelevant to me. I want an intelligent, strategic mayor with a clear vision of the future of Toronto. Ford is not that mayor. He should stick to coaching football and community outreach where I actually respect his work.

  7. the Sot wrote: “In the end it will be interesting to see if the court has the balls to disenfranchise 385,000 voters over this matter.”

    Do you really think that number is still accurate? I voted for ford and would never vote for him again. I could care less about the man, and I promise you, disenfranchised is not what I would be if he is tossed for good from city hall. Please, do not speak for others.

    • Do I think it’s still accurate? …… I believe his support may be somewhat higher than it was in 2010.

  8. Greatest mayor ever. Hope you stay mayor a long, long time Rob.

  9. Substitute “stupid” for “honest” and you might be onto something.

  10. What about Lenczner’s statement to the court that Rob Ford “is a high school graduate” as seemingly some sort of response to the question of why Ford didn’t read and/or understand materials setting out the requirements that applied to his position and/or didn’t really know what a conflict of interest was and when he might be involved in one? Why insult high school graduates by implying that had anything to do with Ford’s ignorance or lack of comprehension? Does Lenczner really think that’s anywhere near a valid legal defence? “I respectfully submit to the Court, that like most Canadians, my client is only a high school graduate, and thus lacked the wherewithal to understand and follow rules, so he should be held blameless for any wrongdoing.”

  11. Mr Ford doesn’t have a chance in this world in suceeding in his appeal.

  12. No shortage of Leftist Mental Disorder on this thread.

  13. Does Lenczner’s line of argument open the door for the prosecutor to put forward evidence of Ford’s belligerence and obstinance on other occassions? Because there really is no shortage of incidents where Ford acts belligerent and obstinant.

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