Top court dismisses final appeal in Rob Ford conflict case
Ford feels 'vindicated,' says it is time to move on
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford expressed relief Thursday that a conflict challenge that previously threatened to oust him from office won’t be revived in the country’s top court.
"I'm so happy this is finally over. I’ve been vindicated and we can move on," Ford told reporters in Toronto, about two hours after the Supreme Court of Canada rejected an application to hear a final appeal in the much-publicized conflict case that began last year.
As is customary, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for dismissing the appeal, but legal experts — including the lawyer who filed the application himself — had acknowledged that the odds of reviving the conflict of interest case were a long shot.
The court only accepted 12 per cent of appeal requests made last year.
Toronto resident Paul Magder filed an application in an Ontario court last year, alleging that Ford had violated conflict of interest legislation when he participated in a council vote that absolved his need to pay back funds donated to his private football foundation.
The controversy had begun two years before the application was filed, when Toronto’s integrity commissioner recommended to council in August 2010 that Ford pay back the donations that had been improperly solicited on letterhead with official city markings. Council adopted her recommendations.
In January 2012, the integrity commissioner informed council that Ford had not provided proof of reimbursement. That preceded the vote that occurred days later, which resulted in council deciding to drop the issue and take no further action. Magder filed his application in March 2012.
Ford testified in court that he never read the legislation he was accused of violating, nor the materials that the city gives to its elected officials explaining their obligations in declaring conflicts.
In November of last year, a Superior Court justice found that Ford had violated conflict of interest rules and ordered the mayor removed from office.
Ford appealed the matter and a Divisional Court subsequently overturned the removal order in January.
But the day that Ford won the appeal, Clayton Ruby, the lawyer for the Toronto resident who filed the application, indicated that he would ask the Supreme Court of Canada to hear an appeal.
Ruby's office did not offer a statement after the court announced its decision on Thursday.
On Thursday, Ford admitted that the case "has taken a significant toll on my family, both financially and emotionally."
The mayor suggested "the entire case was driven by the political agenda of a very small group" that has "open ties to political activists."
He alleged that some of his opponents have been dissatisfied with his election and have been working to undermine him in other ways.
"They couldn’t beat me at the polls, so they tried everything they could to stop me from moving forward with my agenda," Ford said.
Ford did not take questions after speaking briefly with reporters at Toronto City Hall.
Since taking on the job as mayor of Canada's most populous city, Ford has consistently made headlines both for his official work and his life outside city hall.
The 44-year-old previously served as a city councillor for a ward in Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb where he lives with his family