TORONTO - A contrite Rob Ford finally apologized Tuesday to those who don't like the way he handled his conflict of interest situation, but said he would fight to stay on as mayor.

Ford also said his appeal of a judge's decision to boot him from office should not be construed as criticism of the courts, although he had previously blamed a left-wing conspiracy for his ouster.

"Looking back, maybe, I could have expressed myself in a different way," Ford said in a prepared statement.

"To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize."

Playing an emotional trump card, the embattled mayor said in a shaky voice the "entire matter" started because he "loves to help kids play football."

"I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth."

To that end, Ford solicited donations from lobbyists for his private football foundation using city letterhead.

He repeatedly refused the integrity commissioner's orders to repay the $3,150 he had solicited, and was booted Monday for conflict because he voted at a council meeting on the repayment.

"I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain, and the city had nothing to lose," Ford said.

He took part in the council vote, he said, because he considered it important to answer the accusations made against him.

Ford is seeking a stay of the judge's ruling pending an appeal to Divisional Court. The stay application will be heard Dec. 5 and the appeal Jan. 7.

On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ordered Ford removed from office for violating conflict rules but put the order on hold for 14 days so the city could make suitable arrangements.

Ford, Hackland found in a scathing ruling, was "wilfully blind" in taking part in the council vote on whether to repay the $3,150.

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

"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.

Immediately after the judgment, Ford blamed a political conspiracy for his ouster, saying "the left wing wants me out of here, and they'll do anything in their power to (do that).''

Taking a different tone Tuesday, Ford said he would fight the decision because his work as mayor was not yet done.

"I feel it's important to work through the appeal system so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do by the taxpayers of this city," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, the city's top lawyer rejected Ford's plan to run in a byelection — estimated to cost about $7 million — if one is called to choose his successor.

City solicitor Anna Kinastowski told council that Hackland's ruling booting Ford for the "current term" precludes that option.

"It is my opinion that that word 'term' means 2010 to 2014," Kinastowski said.

Coun. Paula Fletcher said council will probably go with the solicitor's advice that the "term" runs from when he was elected in 2010 until 2014.

"Sometimes the mayor interprets the rules differently than everybody else," she said.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday labelled calls by some councillors for Ford to resign as "political comment."

Earlier on Tuesday, Ford appeared at an event outside city hall honouring the Toronto Argonauts, who won the Grey Cup on the weekend. There was a mix of cheers and boos in the crowd, and some heckled and laughed when he was introduced as mayor.

On Tuesday night, Ford was at the Rogers Centre — the site of Sunday's 100th Grey Cup — to coach his high school football team in a championship game.

Ford's Don Bosco Eagles were defeated in the 31st Metro Bowl, 28-14 to the Huron Heights Warriors of Newmarket, Ont. The mayor watched from the sidelines as his team — which was making its first trip to the championship — rallied in the second half with a touchdown, but couldn't complete the comeback.

Ford's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, had called on supporters to rally behind the mayor by appearing at the game.

But apart from half a dozen supporters, including one hoisting a home-made sign in favour of Ford, and a few others handing out stickers, the crowd gathered appeared more focused on football than politics.

— with files from Linda Nguyen

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  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is hoisted into the air by his Don Bosco Eagles team after winning the Metro Bowl quarter-final at Birchmount Park in Toronto, Thursday Nov. 15, 2012. A civil trial hearing in which the mayor is accused of libel against a restaurant owner went on without him. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Drost

  • Mayor Rob Ford celebrates hoists the Ross McDonald trophy with his team the Don Bosco Eagles in Toronto, Ont. Thursday, November 8, 2012. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

  • Actors Will Ferrell (left) and Zack Galifianakis (centre) receive stickers from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the Hockey Hall of Fame as they promote their new movie "The Campaign" in Toronto on Monday, July 30, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

  • Actors Will Ferrell (left) and Zack Galifianakis (centre) receive stickers from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the Hockey Hall of Fame as they promote their new movie "The Campaign" in Toronto on Monday, July 30, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (centre) dances with participants ahead of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in Toronto on Saturday July 30, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Two hours of speeches and entertainment helped to kick off the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto on July 12, 2011. Mayor Rob Ford showed up about half way through, posed for some photographs, made a speech, presented a scroll, cut a cake, posed for more pictures on his way back inside, and even danced for a few notes with a costumed participant. Canadian Press

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, looks on as he is about to receive the Pan American games flag at Omnilife Stadium during the closing ceremonies of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011. Toronto will host the games in 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

  • Mayor Rob Ford was on hand in the alley way behind 1278 St. Clair Avenue West in Toronto on April 7, 2011 to re-iterate his plans to clean up the graffiti in Toronto. After doing some power washing with a diluted solvent the mayor said it was difficult to remove the graffiti but they would get it done, brick by brick. He was covered in "water" and paint chips when he was done the power washing. (Photo by Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

  • Toronto, Dec. 16/2010 - Mayor Rob Ford, wearing the Chain of Office necklace, reacts during a chat with 2010-2014 Councillors Doug Holyday (L) and Councillor Frances Nunziata while waiting for their first official group photo at City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Besides the absence of a couple of councillors the shoot went off with no problems. Canadian Press

  • 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

  • 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

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (center) smiles as he officially opens the refurbished Sunnydale rink with Toronto Maple Leafs' coach Ron Wilson (right) and other dignitaries who were on hand as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs who practiced on the outdoor rink in Toronto on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit

  • Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as he was on hand for the grand opening of his new Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto, Ont. Thursday, April 16/2012. Canadian Press

  • As part of an exhibition at the CNE, Toronto-based artist Olenka Kleban has made a butter sculpture of Toronto's mayor.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches from the sidelines near the Argos bench during a CFL football game between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders in Calgary on Saturday, August 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

  • Mayor Rob Ford speaks with a private security guards at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto during an event held on Sept. 21, 2012 to recognize the hockey players of Team Canada 1972 before their Canada's Walk of Fame induction, as a group, on Saturday. Mayor Rob Ford read a proclamation that was presented to each player, and Paul Henderson, who scored the winning goal, presented the Mayor with a hockey sweater. Henderson's original hockey jersey from 1972 was on display behind glass for the event. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

  • Rob Ford is interviewed by the media at the Toronto Congress Center in Etobicoke after his election as Toronto Mayor Monday night, October 25, 2010, Toronto, Canada. The Canadian Press/Michael Hudson

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs participate in an outdoor practice at Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto Wednesday, December 22, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

  • Rob Ford is seen reading while driving in this photo from Twitter.

  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford posing in City Hall with the City of Toronto sigh. Canadian Press

  • Rob Ford poses with neo-Nazi Jon Latvis. Ford's office has explained Toronto's mayor was unaware of the man's beliefs when the image was captured.

  • Toronto Mayor-elect Rob Ford, centre, raises his arms with his wife Renata, right, and mother Diane, left, as he speaks to supporters in Toronto on Monday, October 25, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette


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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 $1-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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