Toronto

Toronto voter appealing decision to reinstate Jim Karygiannis, says judge made errors

The Toronto voter who alleges that Jim Karygiannis broke spending limits during his 2018 campaign is appealing a decision to reinstate the councillor at city hall.

Karygiannis has said spending violation for expensive dinner party was a clerical error

Jim Karygiannis was removed from office in November after Toronto's city clerk uncovered a spending violation. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

The Toronto voter who alleges that Jim Karygiannis broke spending limits during his 2018 campaign is appealing a decision to reinstate the councillor at city hall.

An Ontario Superior Court judge reinstated Karygiannis last week after he was briefly removed from office over election expenses related to a restaurant event he hosted last December.

"If left unchallenged, Justice [William] Chalmers' decision would signal to every local politician in the province that they can overspend with impunity on their election campaigns because they can run to court afterwards to keep their office," said Adam Chaleff, who was an intervenor in Karygiannis's legal application to win back his job.

Chaleff is an elections advocate who requested the audit that first revealed Karygiannis's spending violation.

The Scarborough-Agincourt councillor spent $32,083.50 on a voter appreciation dinner, which is $25,962.70 more than the limit set out in provincial regulations.

However, Karygiannis argued the expense was a miscategorized "clerical error." He says the dinner party at question was in fact a fundraising event, which is not subject to spending limits.

Lawyers for the councillor and former longtime Liberal MP said it was clearly a mistake since Karygiannis made no attempt to hide the spending in his filings with the city.

"I find that Mr. Karygiannis acted in good faith with respect to the filing of the financial statements," Justice Chalmers said in his reinstatement ruling.

Chaleff said that decision includes several errors of law and errors where Chalmers mixed fact and law.

Among the alleged errors, Chaleff argues that Chalmers did not have the jurisdiction to reinstate Karygiannis. He also argues that Karygiannis's expense violation was not a technical error but rather "a substantive breach of the Municipal Elections Act."

No date has been set for the Ontario Court of Appeal to consider the challenge.