Op-Ed: Did Toronto's Rob Ford know about conflict of interest rules?

Posted Nov 26, 2012 by KJ Mullins
Rob Ford has been removed as Mayor of Toronto. On Monday Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland ruled that Rob Ford had violated conflict of interest rules.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford
When the judge ruled on Monday that Ford had to be removed from office he could have also demanded that Rob Ford not run for seven years. Hackman did not. This means that Toronto could chose to vote Ford back into office.
If Ford decides to appeal the decision he will be heard by a three-judge panel.
Ford has said he was innocent and that he never did anything wrong other than not reading the city's handbook on conflict of interest rules. He didn't think he was wrong when he voted in City Council to overturn the integrity commissioner ruling that he pay back donors from his own pocket.
Football was behind the case. Ford had sought donations for the Rob Ford Football Foundation using City Hall letterhead and a list that was also used for solicitation for his political career. Ford had been ordered to pay back the money, a fairly small sum. Ford ignored that order until he couldn't. In February during a City Council meeting there was a vote about the matter. Ford, instead of excusing himself from the vote as a conflict of interest gave a passionate speech about the issue and then voted not to have to open his own wallet. It was a dumb move, one that even a city hall rookie would have been advised against. Conflict of interest actually does mean something in government. You don't do it and if you are caught you will pay.
I don't think Ford knew that his Teflon coat would wear out over a simple vote. He had weathered other storms and came out ahead. Talking on a cell phone while driving, trying to take away services from the poor, doing the cottage instead of the Pride Parade, attacking media that didn't side with him...Ford had been in the valley of public rating death and had survived. Until today. One vote.
He's likely to claim in the days ahead he did it for the boys, his team. The boys that no one else cares about. Thing is their parents do care. They show up for the games. Those parents also like Ford. There's no doubt that he has been a mentor to the Don Bosco Eagles. He has stated proudly that he made a commitment to his team. That commitment overruled his commitment to the people of Toronto.
It was revealed by the media that Ford's staff had been working with the team during the summer, although that time is quoted as volunteering.
Football has also been controversial recently at City Hall. Ford had chosen his team over his obligations to the City of Toronto on several recent occasions. Maybe Ford knew what was going to go down today. Did he decide that if he was going to be out of his main gig to devote all of his energy to the boys? The Eagles won the Catholic championship this month. At least Ford has that.