TORONTO - The fate of Toronto's controversial mayor now rests in the hands of an Ontario judge.
Lawyers wrapped up their arguments on Thursday in a lawsuit accusing Rob Ford of being embroiled in a conflict of interest.
Justice Charles Hackland told court he would try to reach a verdict in a timely manner.
If found guilty, Ford could be tossed out of the office he's held for less than two years and barred from running for city council for seven years.
Ford is accused of not declaring a conflict of interest when he gave a speech and participated in a council vote last February to strike down a recommendation that he repay donations he solicited using official city letterhead for his private football foundation.
Ford told court he believed he did nothing wrong based on his own definition of conflict of interest laws, while lawyer Clayton Ruby argued Ford acted in bad faith by not familiarizing himself with the city's rules on the issue.
Ruby's arguments focused in part on Ford's statements from the day before, when he admitted to being unfamiliar with city policies surrounding conflict of interest.
Under cross-examination, Ford said he didn't remember receiving or reading a handbook for municipal councillors that outlines when to declare conflict of interest or the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which he is accused of breaking.
He also admitted he had not attended an orientation meeting when he was first elected city councillor in 2000.
Ruby argued such actions cast a shadow on the mayor's actions.
Ford could be allowed to keep his job if Hackland ruled he made an honest error of judgment, but Ruby suggested the mayor's lack of familiarity with conflict of interest policies would effectively quash that argument.
"If true, it is not a good faith error. He is deliberately not doing what any reasonable person would do," Ruby said.
Ford's lawyer, Alan Lenczner, argued Ford had every right to speak up on a matter that didn't involve city business.
That argument was in line with Ford's own definition of conflict of interest, which he presented during Wednesday's testimony.
"I believe in my mind, in a conflict of interest, the city benefits and the councillor benefits,'' Ford testified on Wednesday.
"It takes two parties to have a conflict. In this case, there was only one party. The city did not benefit.''
Ford admitted that back in 2010, he didn't think he had violated any rules when he used his staff to help send out donation requests for his football fund and mail them out to donors who had officially lobbied the city government.
But the city's integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, had found Ford's actions broke the conduct code for councillors and recommended he pay back $3,150 to the donors from his own pocket.
Council adopted the commissioner's findings and sanction in a resolution Ford voted against _ but he never made the repayments, despite several reminders from the commissioner.
The issue was resurrected in February, at which time council voted to overturn the integrity commissioner's penalty.
Just before the council vote in February, Ford gave a passionate speech about his charity, which buys football equipment for at-risk high school students in Toronto. He also voted in favour of the motion that would allow him to keep the money.
Lenczner argued the integrity commissioner's original sanction is void because ordering Ford to repay the donations was out of her jurisdiction. The city's code of conduct says councillors can either be hit with a reprimand or a pay suspension if they commit an integrity violation.
The lawsuit was launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder, who accused Ford of a conflict of interest one month after the vote in question.
The following is a rundown of key facts and background information pertaining to the Rob Court conflict of interest case. <em>With files from CBC</em>
What's At Stake
Technically, the mayoralty. If Ford is found to have violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA), he would be automatically ejected from office. Justice Charles Hackland, who will oversee the hearing, can also bar him from being able to run for office for up to seven years.
The legal challenge was launched on March 9 by Magder. His complaint stems from the mayor's decision to speak and participate in a council vote on Feb. 7 that rescinded an August 2010 directive from council and integrity commissioner Janet Leiper to pay back $3,150 in donations that corporate and lobbyist donors had given to Ford's football foundation when he was a city councillor. Ford was ordered to pay back the money out of his own pocket after Leiper investigated a complaint he had used council letterhead in March 2010 to solicit donations for the Rob Ford Football Foundation. Leiper found that year he had violatedcouncil's code of conduct in doing so, notably the sections that dealt with soliciting donations from lobbyists, a member of council using his or her influence to obtain donations and the rules for using city property and services to obtain donations for a charity set up in his name.
What The Complainant Alleges
Ruby has said that Ford had a pecuniary interest in the matter when he voted in favour of rescinding council's 2010 decision that he pay back the money and take no further action on the matter. That would be a violation of the act, Ruby has said, which would result in his removal for office. The only way Ford can survive being ejected from office, Ruby says, is if he can show he acted inadvertently or through an error in judgment. But the legal challenge says neither of these two defences hold water and that the mayor's conduct was "flagrant and deliberate." <em>Clayton Ruby, with his client, Paul Magder, left, give details for a civil lawsuit against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford during a media briefing in the Press Gallery at City Hall on March 12, 2012.</em>
What The Mayor's Camp Says
The mayor's office says in an email the MCIA does not apply because the integrity commissioner's original report addressed a council code of conduct violation, not an MCIA violation. Additionally, the August 2010 council vote that the mayor pay back the money was illegal, because council only has the authority to withhold pay or reprimand a member, not fine them. The order to pay back the $3,150 in donations constitutes a fine because Ford was asked to pay out of his own pocket, says the mayor's office. Further, his camp says, he never received the donations, only his charity did. Ford's lawyer could also argue he made an error in judgment.
What Happens If Ford's Found To Have Violated Law
John Mascarin, a municipal and land use planning specialist at law firm Aird and Berlis LLP, calls the complaint a "very serious case." Justice Hackland cannot find the mayor to be in violation of the act but still be able to keep him from being turfed from office, said Mascarin. "The mayor of Toronto should know better," he said. A decision in the case will likely take one to two months, Mascarin expects. If Ford is forced from office, Toronto council then has 60 days to either appoint a mayor or hold a byelection for the office of the mayor. Ford can appeal a guilty finding to a three-judge panel at the Ontario divisional court. That panel's decision is final. The appeal process could take six to eight months, Mascarin estimates.
Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford watches players from Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, warm up before they compete against the Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012 Those whose antics threaten to besmirch the party name normally don't get a second chance with Canada's federal Conservatives. Not so, it would seem, for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford reacts after Don Bosco Eagles, the High School team he coaches, lost 28-14 to Huron Heights Warriors in the Metro Cup in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hoists the Grey Cup on stage with Toronto Argonauts players while celebrating the team's Grey Cup victory in downtown Toronto on Tuesday, Nov.27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses reporters at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday November 27, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to his Don Bosco Eagles team during the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, left, speaks to the media at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012. Ford has been ordered out of office after a judge ruled Monday he broke conflict of interest rules.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, walks to attend a toy charity event at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012. Ford has been ordered out of office after a judge ruled Monday he broke conflict of interest rules.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012.Ford has been ordered out of office after a judge ruled Monday he broke conflict of interest rules.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/21/rob-ford-fall-gif-video_n_2170653.html">Rob Ford was at an event to promote the Grey Cup when he fell while hamming it up for the press. A GIF of the fall went viral on the Internet</a>.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, makes a few remarks as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel listens, before the pair signed a new "sister cities" agreement Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, makes a light hearted comment as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laughs during the signing of a new "sister cities" declaration Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits on the back of Chicago's First Lady as he takes in an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Ford was visiting the city on a Toronto-Chicago Business Mission.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, top left, relaxes during a boat tour with members of the Toronto-Chicago Business Mission on the Chicago River waterfront Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, top right, waves to photographers during a boat tour with members of the Toronto-Chicago Business Mission on the Chicago River waterfront Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Chicago.
Rob Ford Meets Butter Rob Ford
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/31/rob-ford-butter-sculpture-ex-cne_n_1846616.html" target="_hplink">Toronto Mayor Rob Ford comes face to face with a butter sculpture of himself at the Canadian National Exhibition</a>.
Butter Rob Ford
As part of an exhibition at the CNE, Toronto-based artist Olenka Kleban has made a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/24/butter-rob-ford-sculpture_n_1828527.html" target="_hplink">butter sculpture of Toronto's mayor</a>.
Dave Chappelle And Rob Ford
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/22/dave-chappelle-rob-ford_n_1822240.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-politics" target="_hplink">Comedian Dave Chappelle met briefly with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford</a> on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/14/rob-ford-reading-driving-car-gardiner_n_1776183.html" target="_hplink">Rob Ford is seen reading while driving</a> in this photo from Twitter.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/30/rob-ford-will-ferrell-zach-galifianakis-sketch_n_1719420.html" target="_hplink">Rob Ford meets with comedic actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis</a>.
Rob Ford poses with neo-Nazi Jon Latvis. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/07/26/rob-ford-nazi-photo_n_1707326.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_hplink">Ford's office has explained Toronto's mayor was unaware of the man's beliefs when the image was captured</a>.
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (left) and city councillor Michelle Berardinetti (right) smile on stage during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acts on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)
Rob Ford's ballet debut
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford jumps on stage dressed as a Cannon Doll during a performance of the Nutcracker in Toronto on Saturday, December 10, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit)