5 possible outcomes for Rob Ford
Court releases decision in Toronto mayor's bid to keep job at 10:30 a.m. ET today
Today is judgment day for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Here are five possible outcomes for Canada's most well known mayor:
Outcome 1: Ford keeps his job
Ford is appealing a judicial order to remove him from office after Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland ruled in November that he had violated conflict-of-interest rules during a council vote last year.
A three-judge panel of the Ontario Divisional Court heard the appeal, during which Ford's lawyer, Alan Lenczner, argued that forcing Ford to relinquish the Toronto mayoralty is a "draconian" punishment for an honest error in judgment in his interpretation of conflict-of-interest rules.
Lenczner argued that the mayor misinterpreted the law when he voted in favour of a council motion that would have absolved him from an earlier council directive to repay $3,150 in donations made by lobbyists to his football charity.
The panel could side with Lenczner, overturn the decision, and secure Ford's job until the next election in the fall of 2014.
Outcome 2: The case is sent back for a new trial
A little-discussed outcome, but possible according the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, is that the court could send the case back for a new trial, resetting the process to square one.
Outcome 3: Ford loses his job, council appoints a replacement
If the appeal panel upholds Hackland's decision, Ford will be forced to vacate his seat and city councillors will have three ways forward: appoint a new mayor, re-appoint Ford, or call a byelection. Their next scheduled meeting is Feb. 20, though a special meeting could be convened sooner.
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Coun. Adam Vaughan, a frequent critic of the mayor, has said that the public may need to look to someone new to take the lead at city hall.
"While the mayor has been eager to sort of play out his political career in the court chamber, we actually need him in the council chamber," he said. "And if we can’t get him, it's probably time for Toronto to look towards stronger leadership from somebody else."
The replacement could be a councillor or a citizen of the city, needing a 23-vote majority of council.
However, CBC reporter Jamie Strashin said this option does not seem likely, based on his discussions with councillors at City Hall, including Coun. Janet Davis.
"I have concern about an appointment process," she said. "I think that the back hall arm-twisting and deal making will start, because any councillor who wants to be an interim mayor through appointment will be looking for 23 votes."
Option 4: Ford loses his job, council re-appoints him
Council could decide to simply put Ford back in the mayor's chair.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is a Ford ally who is considered a prime candidate to be voted to the chair through appointment, but he'd prefer council give it back to Ford.
"I think it's a matter of justice and fairness and if councillors will set politics aside for a moment, I think that they will see what I’m talking about it," Holyday has said. "The fact is the judge said that the law is a blunt instrument in this case, which means that the penalty doesn’t fit what’s happened. It’s far too severe."
Holyday said two weeks ago that he thinks 12 to 15 councillors would vote to a reappoint Ford, but he would have to round up 23 votes in order to secure a majority that would allow for Ford to be reappointed.
Option 5: The city goes to the polls
Council could also decide to hold a byelection.
The mayor's brother and political ally, Coun. Doug Ford, said at the time of the appeal that a byelection should be called to let voters decide the issue — a contest that would cost the city millions of dollars.
"What price do you put on democracy?" Doug Ford has said.
The mayor has said he would run in any byelection. Potential opponents bandied about by the media and other political watchers have included councillors Adam Vaughan, Shelley Carroll, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Karen Stintz, as well as Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow.
"We believe in democracy, that the people elect our leaders," Doug Ford said in early January. "Judges do not elect our leaders and we’re going to bring it to the people if this appeal doesn’t go through and that's it, folks."