Not so fast Ford: Toronto city lawyer says ousted mayor cannot run in potential byelection

TORONTO – An application seeking to stay the court-ordered ousting of Mayor Rob Ford from office will be heard early next month while the city’s top lawyer said he could not run in any byelection if one is called to choose his successor.

City solicitor Anna Kinastowski told council that a judge’s ruling booting Ford from office for the “current term” precludes that option.

“It is my opinion that that word ‘term’ means 2010 to 2014,” Kinastowski said.

“That is our interpretation of that particular fact.”

On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ordered Ford removed from office for violating conflict-of-interest rules.

Ford, Hackland found, was “wilfully blind” in taking part in a council vote on whether he should repay $3,150 he had solicited for his private foundation using city letterhead.

Hackland could have barred Ford from running again for seven years, but instead opted to disqualify him for the “current term.”

Immediately after, Ford said he would fight the decision and planned to run in any byelection — estimated to cost about $7 million — that council calls to fill his seat.

“I’m a fighter,” the mayor said.

“If there’s a byelection, my name will be the first one on the ballot.”

Some lawyers called Hackland’s order ambiguous but Kinastowski said she didn’t see that.

“If down the road there is a by-election and Mr. Ford does not agree with our interpretation, he can certainly take action to get a judicial interpretation at that time,” she said.

Coun. Paula Fletcher said council will probably go with the solicitor’s advice that the “term” runs from when he was elected in 2010 until 2014.

“Sometimes the mayor interprets the rules differently than everybody else,” she said.

Ford’s lawyer said Tuesday that Divisional Court will hear a stay application Dec. 5., with the court to hear an appeal of Hackland’s ruling likely in early January.

The mayor did appear at an event outside city hall honouring the Toronto Argonauts, who won the Grey Cup on the weekend.

There was a mix of cheers and boos in the crowd, and some heckled and laughed when Ford was introduced as the mayor of the city

The mayor’s woes also multiplied with one of his key allies and main defenders on council, Giorgio Mammoliti, announcing he was stepping down from Ford’s executive council.

He said Tuesday he will still support any policies he considers fiscally responsible and was not distancing himself from Ford’s policies of the past two years.

“We do need to come together and we need to figure out how to do it together,” Mammoliti said.

—With files from Linda Nguyen.

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