Mayor Rob Ford booted from office

Nov 26, 2012 | News

COURTESY: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Claire McCormack

Rob Ford has 14 days before he has to pack up his office and vacate his mayoral position at city hall.

Justice Charles Hackland ruled in a superior court today, “I declare the seat of the respondent, Robert Ford, on Toronto City Council, vacant.”

How did the controversial Ford get to the point of being booted out? It started before he even took office as mayor.

“Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford. It could have been so easily avoided. It could have been avoided if Rob Ford had used a bit of common sense and if he had played by the rules,” Clayton Ruby, the prominent lawyer who argued against Ford, said in a press conference Monday.

It all kicked off in December 2009 after a resident filed a complaint with Toronto’s integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper.

The complaint was a reaction to letters that had been sent out on City of Toronto letterhead to residents asking for money for Ford’s private football foundation.

The case centered on a civil suit launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder, who took Ford to court over his use of city resources to raise funds for his foundation.

“The investigation revealed that Councillor Rob Ford and his staff had worked on Rob Ford Football Foundation business using City resources,” Leiper’s report said.

“He and a member of his office staff mailed out requests for donations on his Councillor letterhead and stationery, and added the embossed seal to the envelopes.”

The commissioner advised Ford not to use public supplies for private work in December 2009 and February 2011.

“…Councillor Ford had recently received advice from my office that he should not fundraise in this way,” Leiper said in her January 2012 integrity commissioner’s report.

Leiper reported the results of an investigation saying that Ford’s foundation received donations from firms employing lobbyists and a company that had been awarded a number of contracts with the city in the past.

In an October 2010 correspondence to Ford, the integrity commissioner warned that asking citizens for money on councillor letterhead was questionable, saying, “There is a risk that you could be seen to be using your influence as a Councillor to raise money for your private foundation.”

Leiper also addressed the issue of lobbyist donations.

The January 2012 report reads, “Councillor Ford was advised that lobbyists or developers who might want to seek his support in his role as Councillor might feel that they could do that by making donations to his named foundation.”

The integrity commissioner Leiper asked Ford to give proof of reimbursement to those who donated.

In January 2012, Leiper reported Ford had not provided proof of his compliance with the request for him to pay the donated money back.

In February 2012, Ford and city council voted 22-12 to not pay back the $3,150 in donations.

In March 2012, while represented pro bono by Clayton Ruby, resident Madger filed a lawsuit against Ford.

The trial took place on Sep. 5 and 6, with Ford testifying he did not believe he had violated the Conflict of Interest Act

On Nov. 26, 2012, Justice Hackland’s superior court decision was made, ordering Ford to leave office within 14 days, leaving the option open for him to appeal the dismissal and possibly run for office again.

Magder spoke at a press conference shortly after the ruling was announced.

“It’s a sad day, really, but I think this had to be done,” Magder said.

Don Wanagas, former director of communications for ex-mayor David Miller, and a journalism professor at Humber College, told Humber News, “There were plenty of people within his own camp saying, ‘Just pay the money back, say you’re sorry, and move on.’ He didn’t take that step, and this was the result,” Wanagas said.