Mayor Rob Ford faces removal challenge
Breach of Conflict of Interest Act would require Toronto mayor to forfeit council seat
A Toronto man has brought forward an application alleging Mayor Rob Ford breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act by participating in a council vote that absolved his need to pay back more than $3,000 in donations collected for his private football charity.
The application from Paul Magder claims that the mayor should be forced to lose his seat on council and be disqualified from running for office for up to seven years, as a result of Ford’s alleged breach of the act.
In August 2010, city council found that Ford, who was then a city councillor, had violated the Code of Conduct for Members of Council while soliciting funds for his private football charity.
He was ordered to pay back $3,150 to corporate and lobbyist donors from whom he had collected money, and also to provide proof to the city’s integrity commissioner that he had done so.
But Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper informed council in January of this year that Ford had still "not provided proof of compliance" on the donations matter.
Eight days later, city council members — including Ford himself —voted 22-12 to rescind the decision made in 2010 and to take no further action.
Magder’s application alleges "Ford spoke to this issue and voted on it," while he had a "pecuniary interest," namely the $3,150 he would have to repay.
According to the application, Ford thus violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which could result in him forfeiting his seat unless the mayor can show "the contravention was committed through inadvertence or by reason of an error in judgment."
Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby is representing Magder in the application.
During a news conference at city hall on Monday morning, Ruby explained the difference between inadvertence and error in judgment.
"Inadvertence is the opposite of somebody who is willfully blind, who is reckless or who acts deliberately. If you do any of those things, that defence is not available," Ruby said Monday.
"Error in judgment, it requires that someone — when they make the decision — is honest and frank, acts with candour and complete good faith."
But Ruby said the application argues that neither case is applicable in the case of the mayor.
Magder is a lifelong Toronto resident who said he learned about the council vote in a local paper and felt it was necessary to hold the mayor accountable.
"I’m fed up with all the stuff I see going on in politics, basically," Magder told reporters during the news conference.
The application was issued Friday and served to the mayor’s office on Monday.
The mayor’s press secretary George Christopoulos confirmed to CBC News that the application had been dropped off at Ford’s office.
"Council decided on the issue at its February meeting," Christopoulos said Monday, when asked for comment on the application.