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Video by Ali Chiasson and Kristin Andrews
With files from Shylo Adams
Story by Jennifer Alvarez
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he is “very happy” the Superior Court overturned his conflict of interest ruling.
“I’d like to begin by saying this has been a very, very humbling experience. I have an enormous respect for the judicial system and I’m very, very thankful for the deicsion it made today,” Ford said at the noon press conference at City Hall.
A provincial divisional court panel overturned Justice Charles Hackland’s ruling that Ford had violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA) when he used donated money to fund his private football foundation.
Paul Madger, the citizen who launched the conflict of interest complaint, and his lawyer Clayton Ruby, said they will be appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Superior Court decision was released today at 10:30 a.m., an hour after Ford and his lawyers received the news in private.
The three Superior Court judges’ decision sets aside Hackland’s November ruling which found Ford had violated the act.
Ford said he was grateful to those who inspired him to “continue fighting on” in the bid to keep his position as mayor of Toronto.
“At every restaurant, every gas station, the people of the city have given me phenomenal support,” Ford told reporters.
The mayor said he plans to “continue doing the work we were elected to do”: improve the city’s economy, work on public transportation strategies, and improve customer service in the city.
“I’m very proud to say over the past two years I’ve done exactly what I said I was going to do. The job is not finished yet, and I plan to spend the next six years on getting the job done,” he said.
The Superior Court ruling also found Justice Hackland properly weighed the evidence presented.
Hackland’s “findings are supported by the evidence,” the three Superior Court judges’ stated in their written decision.
However, the judges concluded Hackland erred in his interpretation of the MCIA because Ford did not personally benefit financially and the judges overturned Hackland’s ruling.
“In light of our conclusion that Decision CC 52.1 was a nullity because of the nature of the financial sanction it imposed, the appellant has not contravened s. 5(1) of the MCIA. Therefore, the appeal is allowed, the judgment of the application judge is set aside and the application under the MCIA is dismissed,” the decision stated.
The CBC reports that Ford’s possible ouster from office began in March of last year, when Toronto resident Paul Magder brought forward a complaint alleging that the mayor had violated conflict-of-interest rules when he participating in a February 2012 council vote on whether he should pay back $3,150 donated to the football foundation.
The complaint led to a short trial in September, where Ford admitted he had never read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, or a handbook given to city councillors about their obligations regarding conflicts of interest.
CTV News said Ford’s lawyer Alan Lenczner argued at trial and in appeal that the mayor was an honest politician who made a genuine error of judgment, and should not be found guilty of conflict of interest because he did not benefit personally by his efforts to help disadvantaged youth through his foundation.
Ford still has two years left in his term and the next municipal election is Oct. 27, 2014.
Talking point: We've done exactly what we said we'd do; "Over the next two years, we will focus on getting the rest of the job done."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 25, 2013
— megs_boyle (@megs_boyle) January 25, 2013
I'm pleased with the result, only because it gives me more time to prepare my eventual mayoral run. #FordCourt
— Anthony Smith (@AnthSmith) January 25, 2013