The Verdict Three

OK, wait.

So apparently reaction to the verdict to Mayor Ford’s conflict of interest case isn’t as cut and dry as I thought it should be. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, Tony Baretta kind of thing.

Perhaps not at all surprisingly, the mayor has stated he’s going to appeal the decision. Fair dinkum, I think is what our Australian friends might say in response. Good on ya, mate. Have at it. It’s a free country. Exercise your legal rights.

But no, the mayor couldn’t just stop there. A simple, I don’t agree with Judge Hackland’s decision. I’m going to appeal it. Next question.

Nope. Can’t… not… wave… the… flag… of… division.

“This comes down to left-wing politics,” the mayor said of the decision. “The left wing wants me out of here and they’ll doing anything in their power to.”

That’s right, kids. If ever you’re found yourself having broken a law or a rule, never, ever forget to deflect responsibility for it at the first opportunity you get. Adults do it all the time. It’s how the system works.

But if you want to really tap into the swirling, surly mind of an indignant, unrepentant member of Ford Nation, check out Marni Soupcoff’s disingenuous screed over at the National Post.

Take a little segment of the judge’s decision that dealt favourably with the mayor’s situation — “I recognize that the circumstances of this case demonstrate that there was absolutely no issue of corruption or pecuniary gain…” – mix in a little false equivalency – The Mayor of London, Ontario has been charged with fraud and he’s still in office!! – use a pinch of misunderstanding about the actual law, attributing it to some nameless immigrant bystander — “This makes no sense. What laws did Ford break?” – and a healthy dollop of completely ignoring the damning evidence presented against the mayor – et voila!

An innocent man, trying to do a good deed, mauled by an indifferent and unjust legal system! Democracy denied! An insult to voters whose decisions cannot, will not, shall not be overturned by the preening, intrusive rule of law.

“And when it comes down to it,” Ms. Soupcoff writes, “what the statute [Municipal Conflict of Interest Act] says is terribly anti-democratic… that despite receiving the votes of 380,201 people, a mayor can be tossed on the complaint of one citizen and the conclusion of one judge about a minor and harmless contravention of overly broad conduct rules.”

Minor and harmless the mayor’s contraventions may have been and the conduct rules might be overly broad. But in Judge Hackland’s decision, contravene them the mayor did, and the act left the judge no option but to remove the mayor from office. It has nothing to do with defying democracy or ignoring the voters’ wishes. It has everything to do with upholding the law.

“It seems, shall we say,” Soupcoff scribbles, building to her crescendo of outrage, “incommensurate that Toronto’s mayor should meanwhile be given the boot for insisting on speaking and voting on whether he should have to pay out a few thousand dollars for being overzealous in his charity work.”

… for being overzealous in his charity work.

Overzealous in his charity work?! No, Marni Soupcoff. Despite numerous warnings from the Integrity Commissioner not to use his official letterhead to solicit donations for his football foundation, then Councillor Rob Ford ignored her. When ordered to pay back the donations from his own pocket if need be, he refused. As mayor, he chose to speak and vote on the item brought before council to overturn that order.

In Judge Hackland’s opinion:

It would appear that the respondent’s actions at the February 7, 2012 Council Meeting, in speaking and voting on resolutions concerning the Integrity Commissioner’s factual findings in her report and her recommended sanction, was one last protest against the Integrity Commissioner’s position that he profoundly disagreed with.

Mayor Ford stamped his feet, ignored the will of council, rolled the dice to reverse the sanction and was found to have contravened the conflict of interest act in the process.

There’s no overturning of democracy. The voters’ will has not been subverted. One judge ruled that one man violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. That one man now has to deal with the fallout from that. Claiming anything otherwise is simply fanning the flames of petty divisiveness.

treyly submitted by Cityslikr

The Verdict Too


So yeah, that happened.

Lots and lots of details to follow in the next few days. So many questions. An appeal? A by-election? If so, can Rob Ford run in it or does he have to wait until 2014? Does he even want to? He gets so much more joy from coaching football…

The thing I do want to say right now is, if nothing else, the court decision to oust Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto – or ‘…to declare the respondent’s seat vacant’ — should put to rest the fact that all of this was just some leftist plot to deprive the voters of their democratic right to blah, blah, blah.

No doubt, there’s been an army of people not only unhappy that the man was elected in 2010 but how he went about his business. They saw it as an affront to the city, an affront to how municipal politics was supposed to work. Arguably, he was the most intensely scrutinized local politician since… Mel Lastman.

But surely if all this is nothing more than legal sturm und drang, cheap partisan political posturing, an attempted leftist coup d’etat, the courts would’ve tossed the case out on its ear, declared it frivolous, found the mayor innocent and demanded damages from his persecutors. That didn’t happen. In fact, the mayor’s defense was pilloried by the judge on almost every level.

From Judge Hackland’s ruling (Mayor Ford is the ‘respondent’ below):

For the Mayor, integrity in government should be a top priority.

The Mayor of Toronto has many responsibilities, pressures, and functions, but perhaps the greatest is providing leadership for integrity in government. The Mayor is the face of City government, both internally and externally. Maintaining the integrity of government is the Mayor’s most important job.

In view of the respondent’s leadership role in ensuring integrity in municipal government, it is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the Integrity Commissioner and the Code of Conduct. In my opinion, the respondent’s actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to wilful blindness. As such, I find his actions are incompatible with an error in judgment.

In summary, I find that the respondent has failed in his burden to show that his contraventions of the MCIA were the result of a good faith error in judgment.

To shrug this decision off as the work of some nefarious leftist cabal or unelected, activist judges (Councillor James Pasternak incredibly referred to it as ‘judicial adventurism’) is to drown yourself in a briny sea of denial and conspiratorial nonsense. A hijacking of democracy?! No. Ignoring the rule of law is the most fundamental hijacking of democracy.

Regardless of what happens next, and no one really knows what happens next, an appeal, an appointment, a by-election, the one thing to accept right now is that Rob Ford fucked up. He fucked up and now has to deal with the consequences. Looking for anyone else to blame is a cop out, an abrogation of responsibility.

followed uply submitted by Cityslikr

The Verdict

There’s not really much else to write about at this point, is there.

Anyone paying any attention to Toronto’s political scene is waiting to hear about the fate of our mayor in his conflict of interest case.

I’ll only say this.

Whatever happens, whatever the outcome, no one should be the least bit surprised that we’re here, hanging on the results of this news. It’s kinda, sorta what happens when you elect a maverick to office. Defying convention. Playing fast and loose with the rules.

Skirting established protocol simply comes with the territory when you want to shake up the status quo.

My only prediction is that a scot-free acquittal for Mayor Ford in this case – still the mayor, no legal admonishment, no financial repercussions – will, in his mind and the minds of his supporters, vindicate his way of doing business at City Hall. Full steam ahead, folks. He’ll even have a court sanctioned mandate.

So the ‘chorus of boos’ he heard at a supposed apolitical event like Saturday’s Grey Cup rally will fall upon deaf ears. As will the concerns expressed about his governing style by one of his closest council allies and political mentors, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday. “You can’t open yourself up to these situations because it’s too much of a drain on you personally,” the councillor said, “a drain on you financially, it’s a drain on your family and I suggest it’s a drain on council.”

An unrepentant Ford? M’eh. The judge said everything was A-OK.

Whatever constraints he felt previously (and there is precious little evidence of any) will be gone. No lessons learned. No modifications to his behaviour. Any further claims made against the way he conducts his business as mayor will be brushed off as nothing more than cheap politics from his most die-hard opposition.

That is the main reason I want Mayor Ford at least legally sanctioned, his wrist slapped. He may not take any heed of it. Past experience shows us he won’t. But at least, the rest of us will know that there are consequences to the actions you take regardless of how much of an outsider and reformer you claim to be.

impatiently submitted by Cityslikr