As Digital Journal
reported, Justice Charles Hackland ruled on Monday that the Toronto mayor had breached Ontario's Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Once Ford was found to have been in a conflict of interest, the legislation provides little in the way of options to the judge other than to remove the mayor from office. Hackland ordered his removal from council, to become effective within 14 days.
Ford had raised $3,150 for his private football foundation by sending out letters on his City Hall letterhead. Toronto's Integrity Commissioner later found this was improper and said the money should be paid back. A motion was then brought before council to decide whether the mayor should have to refund the donations. Ford's conflict of interest arose when he spoke to and then voted on the motion that dealt with something he had a personal interest in.
There was no finding or even an allegation that Ford benefited financially from his actions or that there was a financial detriment to the city of Toronto.
Yesterday, the mayor faced the media and said, "I sincerely apologize." But about Monday's decision, the mayor said
I respect the court's decision that was released yesterday, my decision to appeal is not a criticism of the court. But I feel it's important to work through the appeal system to, so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do by the taxpayers of the city.
Later on, Ford repeats that he respects the court's decision.
Citizens and residents of a democratic country are expected to respect the judicial system, the courts, and individual justices. But they don't have to "respect" an individual decision. They don't have to agree with a particular decision, they can say they think the decision was wrong—if they couldn't, there would be no purpose in having appellate courts.
Nowhere in the statement does Ford ever say he thinks the judge's decision was wrong and because it was wrong, he is appealing. In fact he says "my decision to appeal is not a criticism of the court." He only wants to appeal to obtain a stay so he can "continue to work."
Now Ford does say
, "I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain and the city had nothing to lose." But the judge's decision was not based upon the fact Ford knew he had a conflict of interest. Nowhere in the judgment
does Hackland say Ford believed or knew what he did broke the law. He probably didn't know. The judge found that the mayor was "willfully blind" to the conflict of interest laws and neither read up on the rules nor sought advice on whether his actions might amount to a conflict.
Ford has filed his appeal and the trial is set for Jan. 7. A motion to stay the order of Justice Hackland will be heard on Dec. 5.
In order for a stay to be granted, the judge hearing the motion must be satisfied there is an arguable ground or grounds upon which to base an appeal, not staying the order will result in irreparable harm, and the balance of convenience favours the appellant. On the last two points, a stay should be granted. Irreparable harm will be done to Ford (losing his job) and to the city (having to expend resources replacing the mayor). And it is more convenient to both parties to leave Ford where he is pending an appeal.
As to whether there are grounds that Hackland made an error of law in his decision, Ford doesn't seem to think the judge was wrong; he just wants to appeal so he can stay in office longer.
Appealing, but not saying he feels the decision being appealed was wrong was strange—even for Rob Ford.