LONDON, Ont. – Joe Fontana ended his political career Thursday, resigning as mayor of London, Ont., following fraud-related convictions from his time as a federal Liberal cabinet minister.
He was found guilty last week of fraud, forgery and breach of trust after a judge ruled he forged an expense document submitted to the House of Commons in 2005 that resulted in a $1,700 government fraud.
Following the convictions, he was tight-lipped about what they meant for his political future — he had not yet announced whether he would seek another mayoral term in the October municipal elections — but days later announced he would step down.
A statement Monday announced he would resign and would hold a news conference Thursday, but Fontana cancelled that appearance via another statement Thursday morning.
Fontana’s official resignation was delivered to the city clerk and he will now focus on his family, the statement indicated.
“They have sacrificed for me for 32 years,” Fontana writes in the statement. “I will not return to public life.”
This was not how Fontana envisioned his final days in office, but he accepts the challenges before him, he wrote.
“I understand I am required to walk this path alone and I have learned that we will be measured not only by what we do but by how we choose to carry our burdens,” Fontana wrote.
Fontana’s political life spanned more than 30 years, first as a municipal politician, then as a Liberal member of Parliament, ultimately returning to London as mayor.
Sentencing arguments in his criminal case are scheduled for July 15 and the penalties range from an absolute discharge to time in custody.