A contrite Rob Ford acknowledged he could have done things differently in the matter that caused an Ontario judge to order him to relinquish the Toronto mayoralty, one day after attributing his ouster to left-wing politics.
"Looking back, maybe I could have expressed myself in a different way. To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize," Ford said in a prepared statement at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at city hall.
"In our view, it is my opinion that the word 'term' means 2010 to 2014." — Anna Kinastowski, City of Toronto solicitor
"I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth. I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain and the city had nothing to lose. But I respect the court's decision," said Ford, who sounded hoarse.
The mayor was in much feistier form a day earlier, when he attributed the court decision to "left-wing politics."
"The left wing wants me out of here and they'll do anything in their power to," he said at the time.
His comments Tuesday came hours after city solicitor Anna Kinastowski said it is the opinion of the City of Toronto's legal team that Ford would not be able to run for mayor until 2014. She stressed that the mayor is free to seek his own legal opinion.
She was commenting Tuesday morning during a session of Toronto council, a day after Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland found that Ford had violated provincial conflict of interest rules for municipal politicians and ordered his seat be vacated in two weeks.
Kinastowski was specifically addressing uncertainty around the wording in the decision delivered by Hackland.
By law, Hackland could have barred Ford from running again for office for up to seven years. Instead, he did not place "any further disqualification from beyond the current term."
The meaning of "current term" caused much confusion, with some lawyers interpreting that to mean the end of his current term in December 2014, while others interpreted that wording to mean that the term would end if and when he relinquishes the seat.
"In our view, it is my opinion that the word 'term' means 2010 to 2014," Kinastowski said.
But Alan Lenczner, Ford's lawyer, told CBC News that he believes the mayor could run in a byelection if one is called ahead of the 2014 municipal election. Lenczner said he was certain that the word "term" in question meant 14 days and that he thinks the mayor could run again at any time.
Ford has said he plans to appeal Hackland's ruling. If it's upheld in the appeal, council then has 60 days to either appoint a new mayor or call a byelection to fill the seat.
A three-judge panel in Ontario divisional court would hear the appeal that Ford has said he plans to file this week.
The divisional court's ruling is final, Kinastowski said.
'Unusual' for court to decline stay application
Ford could also apply to have Hackland's ruling stayed, and if successful, he could remain as mayor until the appeal process is exhausted.
Lenczner told CBC News that a stay application would be heard on Dec. 5. An appeal of Hackland's ruling could be heard by Jan. 7.
Kinastowski said she thought it would be "unusual" for the court to decline a stay.
However, Stephen D'Agostino, who specializes in municipal law, told CBC News that he believes granting a stay to Ford would be unprecedented.
"I've been involved in conflict of interest work for 15-odd years," he said. "I've never seen it done."
Ford attended council and the victory parade for the Toronto Argonauts, who beat the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday to win the 100th Grey Cup.
Ford made a proclamation declaring "Toronto Argonauts Day."
"This is what you call a dream come true, folks. We said they could do it and they did it," said Ford, who was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers.
On Tuesday night, Ford was on the sidelines at the Metro Bowl, coaching the Don Bosco Eagles in the citywide high school championship. The game was played on the same Rogers Centre field where the Argos captured the CFL championship on Sunday. Ford's team lost 28-14.
While Ford remains mayor for at least 13 more days, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, one of the mayor's staunchest allies, told reporters Ford should step down while the appeal process unfolds. The city is in a "crisis," Mammoliti told reporters shortly after Kinastowski addressed council.
"I think it would be appropriate for him to not leave office, but step down until the appeal is over and give the reins to the deputy mayor," he said.
Good afternoon everyone.
I was elected two years ago by the people of Toronto to do a job. We have accomplished a lot in the past two years. But, that job isn't finished yet.
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 is important to work through the appeal system so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do.
This entire matter began because I love to help kids play football. When this came to Council for the vote in question, I felt it was important to answer the accusations that had been made against me. I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth. I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain. And, the City had nothing to lose.
But, I respect the court's decision. Looking back, maybe I could have expressed myself in a different way. To everyone who believes I should have done this differently – I sincerely apologize.
The people elected me to bring respect for taxpayers back to City Hall, and I will keep working to do exactly that for as long as I can – or, until the people elect someone else to do the job.
Thank you. Unfortunately, that is all I can say at this time.