toronto city council

What happens if Rob Ford doesn't return to City Hall?

With Rob Ford officially on a "leave of absence" from City Hall and the election trail, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly has assumed the duties of the mayor, including those that were still in Ford's command after he was stripped of his powers in November.

With Ford seemingly out of the picture for the foreseeable future, city council can, as of July 8, declare the mayor's seat vacant and appoint a new leader from within to fill the seat until Oct. 27. Alternatively, it can vote to excuse Ford's absence and allow the matter to continue until his return or the next election.

Section 204 (C) of the City of Toronto Act states: "The office of a member of city council becomes vacant if the member is absent from the meetings of council for three successive months without being authorized to do so by a resolution of council."

"We've got a May council meeting, a June council meeting, the mayor would have to return for the July council meeting or council would have to approve a resolution to allow his absence," said City Manager Joe Pennachetti at a press conference this morning.

If that happens, the act allows council to "fill the vacancy by appointing a person who has consented to accept the office if appointed" or hold a by-election. However, the Municipal Elections Act says "no by-election shall be held to fill an office that becomes vacant after March 31 in the year of a regular election."

Bottom line: If Ford doesn't return to council before the July 8 meeting, council will be forced to appoint a new mayor from within or vote to excuse a longer absence. The new mayor would likely be Norm Kelly, since he's already doing the job.

It's not clear, however, what would constitute a return for Ford. Since the drug issues first surfaced last year, the mayor hasn't had a problem turning up for at least a portion of the monthly council meetings. It also remains to be seen whether council would vote to excuse a prolonged absence, especially in light of his broken promises to clean up his act.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Chris Bateman/blogTO.


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