Rob Ford can't run again until 2014, city lawyer believes

Toronto's solicitor says Mayor Rob Ford won't be able to run in a byelection before 2014, if one is called to fill the position he could relinquish in the next couple of weeks following an Ontario court's ruling.

Anna Kinastowski stressed that it is just the opinion of the City of Toronto's legal team that Ford would not be able to run for mayor until 2014, adding that the mayor is free to seek his own legal opinion.

She was commenting Tuesday morning during a session of Toronto council, a day after Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland found that Ford had violated provincial conflict of interest rules for municipal politicians and ordered his seat be vacated in two weeks.

Kinastowski was specifically addressing uncertainty around the wording in the decision delivered by Hackland.

By law, Hackland could have barred Ford from running again for office for up to seven years. Instead, he did not place "any further disqualification from beyond the current term."

The meaning of "current term" caused much confusion, with some lawyers interpreting that to mean the end of his current term in December 2014, while others interpreted that wording to mean that the term would end if and when he relinquishes the seat.

"In our view, it is my opinion that the word 'term' means 2010 to 2014," Kinastowski said.

But Alan Lenczner, Ford's lawyer, told CBC News that he believes the mayor could run in a byelection if one is called ahead of the 2014 municipal election. Lenczner said he was certain that the word "term" in question meant 14 days and that he thinks the mayor could run again at any time.

Ford has said he plans to appeal Hackland's ruling. If it's upheld in the appeal, council then has 60 days to either appoint a new mayor or call a byelection to fill the seat.

A three-judge panel in Ontario divisional court would hear the appeal that Ford has said he plans to file this week.

The divisional court's ruling is final, Kinastowski said.

'Unusual' for court to decline stay application

Ford could also apply to have Hackland's ruling stayed, and if successful, he could remain as mayor until the appeal process is exhausted.

Lenczner told CBC News that a stay application would be heard on Dec. 5. An appeal of Hackland's ruling could be heard by Jan. 7.

Kinastowski said she thought it would be "unusual" for the court to decline a stay.

However, Stephen D'Agostino, who specializes in municipal law, told CBC News that he believes granting a stay to Ford would be unprecedented.

"I've been involved in conflict of interest work for 15-odd years," he said. "I've never seen it done."

Ford to make afternoon statement

Ford attended council and the victory parade for the Toronto Argonauts, who beat the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday to win the 100th Grey Cup.

Ford made a proclamation declaring "Toronto Argonauts Day."

"This is what you call a dream come true, folks. We said they could do it and they did it," said Ford, who was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers. He did not speak to reporters, although he is due to read a prepared statement at city hall at 3:30 p.m.

Later Tuesday night, Ford is expected to lead the Don Bosco Eagles, the high school football team he coaches, in the Metro Bowl, a citywide high school championship. The game will be played on the same Rogers Centre field where the Argos captured the CFL championship.

While Ford remains mayor for at least 13 more days, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, one of the mayor's staunchest allies, told reporters Ford should step down while the appeal process unfolds. The city is in a "crisis," Mammoliti told reporters shortly after Kinastowski addressed council.

“I think it would be appropriate for him to not leave office, but step down until the appeal is over and give the reins to the deputy mayor," he said.

External Links

Municipal Conflict of Interest Act