Rob Ford Court Ruling Boots Toronto Mayor From Office (LIVE UPDATES)

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A court ruling has removed Rob Ford from his job as Toronto's mayor.

Ford was found to have violated the Municipal Conflict-of-Interest Act by Ontario Superior Court Judge Charles Hackland.

Ford failed to declare a conflict of interest when he participated in a council vote to recommend he repay donations that he solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead.

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A subdued but still defiant Ford blamed a left-wing conspiracy for his ouster Monday, pledging to fight "tooth and nail'' against the ruling.

In fact, the Toronto mayor said, if he loses in the courts, he would go straight to the court of public opinion.

"I'm a fighter. If there's a byelection, my name will be the first one on the ballot," Ford told a crush of journalists shortly after the judicial ruling.

"This comes down to left-wing politics. The left wing wants me out of here, and they'll do anything in their power to (do that)."

The legal action was launched by businessman Paul Magder, who argued the larger-than-life mayor violated the rules when he took part in a council vote over repayment of $3,150 in donations he had solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead.

In a damning 24-page decision, Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland slammed Ford for "wilful blindness" that could not be excused as a simple slip-up, especially from someone in his leadership role.

"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'," Hackland said in his ruling.

"I declare the seat of the respondent Robert Ford on Toronto city council vacant."

Hackland could have barred Ford from running again for seven years, but instead opted to disqualify him for the "current term."

It was not immediately clear whether that meant Ford's term ended with his ouster, meaning he would be free to run in a possible byelection, although Ruby was adamant the judge had precluded him from doing so.

Lawyer John Mascarin, a municipal law expert, called the ruling ambiguous but said he believed Hackland "clearly" meant to bar Ford from running for office until the current council term is over in 2014.

Both parties could write the judge to seek clarification, said Mascarin, who called the ruling "unprecedented."

The judge did put his declaration on hold for 14 days to give the city time to deal with the situation.

While Ford said supportive calls had been coming in to his office "fast and furious," city resident Ken Garnum carried a sign outside city hall reading "Worst Mayor Ever:Goodbye."

Garnum said he was "thrilled" at the ruling.

"I don't think he's evil," he said. "He just can't tell the difference between right and wrong."

Magder and his lawyer, Clayton Ruby, were tempered in declaring victory.

"We as citizens are responsible for each other, and that means standing up and doing what is right," Magder said.

"This is a sad day for Torontonians. It's sad because we spent so much time and money on this matter instead of nurturing our city."

Ruby said he was unaware of any other big city mayor getting the boot in such a way.

He stressed the case was not about Ford trying to benefit personally or acting dishonestly, but about preserving the integrity of municipal government.

"It is tragic that the elected mayor of a great city should bring himself to this: Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford," Ruby said.

"When you break the rules there's a price to pay. It's important for the courts to assert that nobody is above the law, Rob Ford included."

Regardless of how the ouster plays out, councillors said the city would continue to function.

"It will put a crink in things, but I don't think it will stop the business of city council," Coun. Joe Mihevc said. "The city is bigger than any elected official."

In 2010, Ford 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. The mayor repeatedly ignored demands from the city's integrity commissioner to repay the money.

When council took up the integrity commissioner's order, Ford spoke and voted against the order despite having a financial interest in the matter, a violation of Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, Hackland ruled.

Ford has 30 days to appeal to Divisional Court.

"Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some," said Ford.

"You've just got to roll with the punches; you've got to have the skin on you like an alligator."

As if to prove that point, Ford launched a Christmas toy drive an hour later, while his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, called for supporters to rally behind the mayor at a football match on Tuesday.

Ford was also scheduled to read a proclamation at a Grey Cup parade Tuesday, declaring Nov. 27 the Argonauts Day following the team's win over the Calgary Stampeders. But in a news release Monday, the Toronto Argonauts dropped a reference to Ford, simply referring instead to a city of Toronto declaration.

Rob MacDermid, a political science professor at York University, said it should not have been up to Magder to tackle Ford.

"It's difficult to bring actions against politicians -- it falls to a citizen," MacDermid said. "There has to be a better way."

Ford is the third big city mayor to find himself in serious trouble in recent weeks.

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay resigned earlier this month in the midst of a corruption scandal, while Joe Fontana, mayor of London, Ont., faces criminal charges for allegedly using federal money for personal gain. Both have denied the allegations.

With files from The Canadian Press

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@ TorStarEditor : #robford here is an early look at Wednesday's front page of the Toronto Star. http://t.co/eVToRKDI

The Toronto Star tweeted a photo fo their front page with an exclusive story on how the Ford brothers could be planning a way to maintain power if Rob were unable to run in a by-election. More details as they come.

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More bad news for Rob Ford on Tuesday. The Don Bosco Eagles, the high school football team he coaches fell to the Huron Heights Warriors 28-14 at the Metro Bowl.

Read the full CBC story.

Rob Ford was consistent in one thing though. The mayor left today's council meeting to attend the football game. The mayor has been criticized in the past for missing key votes to coach his team.

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A tired-looking Rob Ford appeared before dozens of reporters at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon. Ford made a brief statement to the media and took no questions. A full text of his statement:

Good afternoon everyone. I was elected two years ago by the people of Toronto to do a job. We have accomplished a lot in the past two years. But, that job isn't finished yet. I respect the Court's decision that was released yesterday. My decision to appeal is not a criticism of the Court. But, I feel it is important to work through the appeal system so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do. This entire matter began because I love to help kids play football. When this came to Council for the vote in question, I felt it was important to answer the accusations that had been made against me. I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth. I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain. And, the City had nothing to lose. But, I respect the court's decision. Looking back, maybe I could have expressed myself in a different way. To everyone who believes I should have done this differently – I sincerely apologize. The people elected me to bring respect for taxpayers back to City Hall, and I will keep working to do exactly that for as long as I can – or, until the people elect someone else to do the job. Thank you. Unfortunately, that is all I can say at this time.

Ford at times appeared close to tears while he was delivering the statement. His voice appeared to break a few times and he was quickly escorted out of the room by his press secretary.

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@ LindaNguyenTO : Suffice to say, the media interest in @TOMayorFord's news conference at 3:30pm is huge. Here's a pic of cams #TOpoli http://t.co/5e8Yg5jw

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@ JProskowGlobal : Mayor Rob Ford will read a prepared statement to the media at 3:30PM

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@ SidRyan_OFL : All due respects to Clay Ruby but court case was dumb politics. Ford is many things but hes not a criminal. Now he's a martyr. #TOpoli

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Mayor Ford's lawyers will be filing his appeal on December 5, the Globe and Mail is reporting.

The appeal to the Divisional Court will be the only one he's allowed and will determine whether he'll be able to stay on as Mayor. Earlier today the city solicitor said that Ford will likely receive a stay in his sentence, which means he would be allowed to stay on as mayor until the court rules on his appeal.

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@ StrashinCBC : City hall security has been aggressive today protecting @TOMayorFord from media throng. Saw a guard physically stop. Star's Dave Rider.#sl

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@ kellygrant1 : Councillors are running all over the place. So Nunziata forces them back to their seats with a quorum call. #topoli

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@ BenSpurr : Well there we go. Pressed by reporters, Mammoliti says Ford should step down, at least temporarily, pending his appeal #TOpoli

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Toronto's City Council got a bit more clarity on the Ford case during Tuesday's meeting. City solicitor Anna Kinastowski outlined the legal road ahead for Mayor Ford and Council.

Mayor Ford will have to file an appeal to the Divisional Court and Ford's lawyers will likely ask for a suspension of the sentence — meaning Ford should be able to stay on as Mayor while the appeal is being decided.

The appeal to Divisional Court will be the mayor's sole appeal and it is binding. In the event the mayor does not receive a suspension of his sentence during his appeal, a scenario that Kinastowski said would be unusual and unlikely, the mayor's job would be vacant as of December 10th.

If the city were to hold a by-election to replace the mayor, the city solicitor says that her reading of Judge Hackland's ruling is that the mayor won't be able to run in a by-election and would have to wait until 2014 to run again.

The solicitor also clarified that Ford's legal fees are not being paid for by the City. "The City is not involved," Kinastowski said.

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@ NPHallMonitor : "The mayor is the mayor, it is business as usual," said Anna Kinastowski, city solicitor, noting judge ruling takes effect in 14 days

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With Rob Ford possibly out of a job, speculation swirls around who will replace him. Will it be a city councillor? A former mayoral candidate? What about a warrior-princess?

This Hour Has 22 Minutes' Marg Delahunty makes her pitch why she should run the City of Toronto.

Watch the video

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It's going to be a busy and possibly feisty day at Toronto City Council.

Watch it live on Rogers TV.

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CBC looks at the road ahead for Mayor Ford and city council.

From the article:

But if yesterday is any indication, that two weeks will be filled with intense legal speculation about whether Ford will seek a stay of the Hackland ruling while an appeal is heard, not to mention political intrigue as Ford opponents and supporters jockey to figure out how to replace him.

If he does go, there are currently two options on the table: appoint a caretaker mayor to fill out the remaining two years of the term or call a byelection. And while it is early days yet, some councillors, including some previously loyal Ford supporters, are beginning to make their preferences heard.

As for the mayor, Ford has said he will appeal the decision at a divisional court. But in order to remain as mayor while the appeal is going forward, he would likely also have to apply for a stay of proceedings.

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@ thechrisws : Via @jpags, the Toronto Star's Ford coverage includes a recipe for humble pie: http://t.co/BUWROeBz

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@ KatieSimpson24 : Mayor Ford speaking with his brother in council chambers ahead of today's meeting. #Toronto http://t.co/YrPtuTwb

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The Toronto Star profiles the 27-year-old who may have helped bring down the mayor. From the article:

“History will write him up as a hero,” left-leaning Councillor Joe Mihevc, who has known Chaleff-Freudenthaler since the latter’s childhood, said on Monday.

“He’s an obstructionist who’s never been happy with Rob Ford getting elected as mayor,” said right-leaning Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.

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@ JProskowGlobal : "You can't put a price on democracy" says Doug ford on cost of by election. "We don't live in Egypt"

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A few things we'll be looking out for today:

1) The Argos Grey Cup parade will wind through the downtown core starting at 11:30. Will Mayor Ford show up?

2) City Council meets today. The city's budget is on the agenda and debate around that can get messy during the best of years. Some councillors have been saying they need a special session to deal with rulings around Rob Ford's court case. We'll see if this happens.

3) The Metro Bowl, the city's championship football game is scheduled for tonight at 8 p.m. Rob Ford's Don Bosco Eagles will be playing for the title. Doug Ford, the mayor's brother, has called for a rally before the game for supporters of the mayor.

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Questions are being raised about an all-or-nothing provision in a previously little-known "draconian" law that was thrust into the spotlight Monday after it was used to unseat the mayor of Canada's largest city.

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As we have come to expect with all things newsworthy, today's ruling that Rob Ford was to be removed from office was the genesis of a bunch of internet stuff.

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At Toronto’s City Hall, surely the most ambiently lunatic building in Canada, a stage was set up to launch the Mayor’s Christmas Toy Drive. Eight small children had been procured to act as “honourary elves,” sitting cross-legged on a carpet at the foot of a Christmas tree, flanked by boxes of mini-trikes and construction cranes. A boxed CFL football sat ominously to one side. The mayor was scheduled to launch the drive at 1 p.m. An enormous crowd of reporters buzzed about. Interest in the mayor’s event had amplified to unusual levels by news that the mayor had just gotten himself fired.

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been ordered out of office after being found guilty of breaking conflict of interest rules, but he's not the only Canadian mayor running into trouble:

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Think you know Rob Ford? Buzzfeed lists eight of his more memorable moments.

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@ TorontoStar : #RobFord timeline: Mayor has had two years of ups and downs http://t.co/Gq23KVYl Story by @paulmoloney4. #TOpoli

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A number of HuffPost Canada bloggers have weighed in the Rob Ford case:

Blogger and comedian Josh Bowman lays out 10 things he learned from Rob Ford. From the blog:

People hate nothing more than hypocrisy in politicians. Corrupt politicians who complain about corruption. Lazy politicians who complain about waste. Lying politicians who complain about a lack of accountability. Nobody is perfect, but if you are going to launch an attack, do your best to live by the principles you espouse.

Katie Heindl says that we should say 'thank you' to Mayor Ford for actually making us interested in civic politics. From the blog:

Ford was, in his own fumbling toward ecstasy sort of way, successfully rallying the entire country. CNN, BBC, they all started paying attention to Toronto, playing into our forever-the-hated older sibling stereotype and need for attention. Sure, it was embarrassing to have a Mayor who looked nothing like Kurt Russell but wanted to pull some sort of reverse Escape From New York on us, but wasn't it kind of nice to pretend for a minute we had a real live liege lord?

While writer Abubakar Kasim said that the mayor doesn't deserve to get fired. From his blog:

While I respect the court's ruling, I think there were other major breaches that warranted similar severe consequences, such as Ontario's -billion eHealth consulting scandal; the cancellation of two gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to taxpayers; the Ontario Lottery and Gaming scandal; the Samsung deal scandal; the Eco Tax scandal and so on.

Niki Thomas echoes a familiar refrain, that Rob Ford had no one to blame but himself. Read her blog:

As an embarrassed former Ford supporter (a confession which I made a few months back) it didn't take me long to realize I had supported the wrong candidate. From the very moment he was inaugurated, by Don Cherry of all people, we knew we were in for a rough ride. Cherry was downright insulting during the ceremony, attacking "pinko commies" for their support of bike lanes, and bragging about the major changes Ford was expected to bring. The vitriol and anger being spouted during the inauguration were just a sign of things to come.

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Premier McGuinty, at a press conference on the Windsor-Detroit Bridge, isn't answering questions on the Rob Ford court case. He says the matter is still before the courts.

He leaves it up to the appropriate ministry to look over the provincial laws regulating behaviour of municipal politicians.

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Around the Web

Mayor Rob Ford guilty, kicked from office but can run again

Rob Ford to learn fate in conflict case

Mayor Rob Ford removed from office

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What could happen to Mayor Rob Ford after Monday's conflict of interest ruling