Toronto Mayor Rob Ford vows to continue "fighting for the taxpayers" in his work at city hall, while he awaits a decision from a panel of judges who will determine if he will keep his job.

Ford is appealing a judicial order to remove him from office, after an Ontario Superior Court justice ruled in November that he had violated conflict-of-interest rules during a council vote last year.

His appeal went before a three-judge panel of the Ontario Divisional Court on Monday.

After the hearing had ended, Ford thanked his supporters, but he declined to comment on what was said in court.

"I just want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support that I got," Ford told reporters during brief remarks outside a Toronto court on Monday evening.

While the Divisional Court judges have reserved their decision, Justice Edward Then indicated that the panel is "sensitive" to time requirements in the case.

He said the court will work to deliver a prompt decision on the appeal, which will be made available online when it is released.

'Draconian' punishment

Earlier in the day, Ford's lawyer told the court that forcing his client to relinquish the Toronto mayoralty is a "draconian" punishment for an honest error in judgment in his interpretation of conflict-of-interest rules.

Alan Lenczner argued that the mayor misinterpreted the law when he voted in favour of a council motion that would have absolved him from an earlier council directive to repay $3,150 in donations made by lobbyists to his football charity.

Lenczner said the mayor had 10 times in the past declared conflict of interest in council matters, and recused himself from voting.

In November, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland found Ford violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and ordered the mayor to vacate his seat on council.

The act does say that violation of conflict of interest rules would result in automatic expulsion from office, save for an error in judgment or if the money involved was too small to be classified a pecuniary amount.

Lenczner cited both provisions in his arguments to the three-judge panel hearing the appeal.

He also argued that city council did not have the power to order Ford to pay back the donations, and that the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act only applies when the city or a council member gains money, which he says did not apply in Ford's case.

Moreover, the penalty for violating the act — removal from office — is "draconian" and punishes not only Ford, but the electorate that sent him to office by a margin of 100,000 votes, Lenczner said in a packed courtroom in downtown Toronto.

The legal proceedings stem from a complaint filed 10 months ago by Toronto resident Paul Magder, who alleged Ford had violated the municipal act by speaking and voting on a matter in which he had a financial interest.

After Hackland ruled Ford had broken conflict of interest rules and should be removed from office, the mayor successfully sought a stay of the decision that has allowed him to keep his job while the appeal process continues.

Lawyer Nader Hasan, a member of the legal team representing Magder, began making arguments in the afternoon and countered that Ford had no right to speak to the matter under Ontario law.

Lawyer Clayton Ruby told the court that it was unreasonable for the mayor to ignore warnings that he was in a conflict of interest.

'The penalty doesn't fit what happened'

The mayor and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, arrived in court shortly before 10 a.m. ET.

If the mayor loses his appeal, city council will have to decide whether to hold a multimillion-dollar byelection, or simply appoint someone to take over for the remaining two years of Ford's term. Council could also appoint Ford himself to serve out the rest of his term, an outcome that Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday told CBC News he would push toward.

"The penalty doesn't fit what happened. It's far too severe," Holyday said.

"So we can take a look at this from a fairness standpoint, and I think if councillors are willing to do that, the fair thing would be to reappoint Rob."

The mayor's brother, on the other hand, said Monday that a byelection should be called to let voters decide the issue.

Rob Ford has said he would run again for mayor at the earliest opportunity if his appeal fails and he is ousted from office.

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  • Stephen Taylor

    Sorry this #fordcourt verdict is taking so long. The judge was coaching football this morning and will get around to it soon.

  • Crissstina♡ ‏

    Rob Ford got kicked out of mayors office? WOWWWWW!! Hes hopping on that gravy train right back home.

  • dubstep rash

    rip rob ford. stung by a hoard of vicious gravy wasps.

  • Liz Russell

    Now I await all Rob Ford memes. #topoli #comeatmebro

  • Justen Bennett

    Oh, my. Rob Ford has been removed from his office as mayor. Toronto politics just got rather interesting. http://t.co/Ltpmkac6

  • urbandreamer

    Rob Ford needs new business cards asap!

  • David Paterson

    Terrifying thought: Governor of the Bank of Canada job is open. Rob Ford is looking for a job. ARRGGHHH! #Cdnpoli

  • The Globe and Mail

    BREAKING: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford found guilty of violating conflict of interest act, removed from office http://t.co/o0BBzIgp #topoli

  • John Lorinc

    #topoli Imagine if #toronto invested as much time and attention to transit financing as we spend distracted by @TOMayorFord latest antics.

  • wojtek arciszewski

    Its a sad day for hard working comedians throughout Toronto. It appears Rob Ford's been booted from office (pending appeal) #RobFord #TOpoli

  • Kevin Stewart

    No more coach/mayor Ford! #topoli

  • Gregory Pike

    How does it work in TO when a mayor finishes early? Is there a bielection or will the deputy step up as acting mayor? #fordcourt #TOpoli

  • Margaret Evans

    Very exciting day in Toronto- and it has nothing to do with football. Let's fix this and make sure it never happens again. #TOpoli

  • Chris Thomas

    Hey #Toronto, #RobFord might be out of office now so get yourselves educated about the issues and make informed choices. #topoli #onpoli

  • Anna Gustafson

    Who's going to drive the gravy train in the parade :(. #TOpoli #RobFord

  • Mike O'Shaughnessy

    Watching the Rob Ford circus is more fun, but Carney leaving Canada for England is bigger and more important news #topoli

  • Robert Fulton

    Oh boy - we're gonna see Jabba the Mayor kick it into serious victim mode now! #RobFord #TOpoli

  • Jam Michael McDonald

    Also, Rob Ford is trending worldwide. (Let's hope just this once and never again.) #TOpoli

  • Matthew Higgins

    If Rob Ford and Dalton McGuinty just traded positions, Toronto would have subways all over the place. #topoli #onpoli

  • Gen Chenier

    I wonder if Rob Ford will appeal the decision or leave quietly with his last shred of dignity. #TOpoli

  • Barry

    On the otherhand Doug Holyday will make an excellent Interim Mayor for #toronto #topoli #tocouncil

  • Alex Naylor

    Let's hope Ford can and does run again soon. Then Toronto can turf his partisan, ignorant ass in the most clearly democratic manner. #TOPoli

  • Johnny Audio

    Have You Driven a Ford (out of office) Lately? #topoli #fordcourt