Legal case could result in Rob Ford's removal from office
When news broke earlier this morning that Toronto resident Paul Magder and lawyer Clayton Ruby would submit a legal application to remove Mayor Rob Ford from office, the question on most people's minds was whether or not there was actually a legitimate case to be made. Was this a publicity stunt or serious stuff? As it turns out, it more the latter than the former. The substance of the case against Ford involves Ontario's Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and an incident in 2010 in which the mayor solicited donations for his high school football charity, the Rob Ford Football Foundation.
Despite the fact that the Integrity Commissioner found that this act violated council's Code of Conduct, Ford never returned the funds. Fast forward to last month, and the issue was back on council's agenda as a motion was put forward to absolve Ford of the need to return the funds. Prior to the vote, Ford defended himself to council and, fatefully, cast a vote in his own favour. The motion passed 22-12, but that's where Ford's problems actually begin.
Over at OpenFile John Michael McGrath has a great little rundown of why that decision was so problematic:
"So how can Ford be in trouble if council declared he did nothing wrong? Because he had a direct monetary interest in the outcome of the vote — the donations that he was supposed to refund to lobbyists — and he voted on the matter in council. This is explicitly illegal under the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. The MCIA is designed to keep municipal politicians from using their influence for financial gains, so any matter with a "pecuniary interest" is one where the councillor involved is supposed to declare a conflict and recuse himself. Under no circumstances was Ford supposed to vote for this motion."
As GOB Bluth would say, "I've made a huge mistake." The penalty for a conflict of interest of this sort is nothing short of removal from office. Will that happen? It's obviously too early to tell. Ford will likely argue that the vote was an error in judgment — which could get him off or a reduced penalty — but that won't be as straightforward as it might sound.
Photo by Martin Reis in the blogTO Flickr pool