Two of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s closest allies offered conflicting opinions Monday on what to do if he loses his appeal of a judicial order to vacate his seat on council.
Three Divisional Court judges began hearing the mayor's appeal on a conflict-of-interest matter in Toronto on Monday and they are expected to return a decision as early as next month.
Until their decision is handed down, Ford will keep his job — and he will continue as mayor if the judges grant his appeal.
But if they uphold the prior decision of Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles T. Hackland, Ford will be forced to vacate his seat and city councillors will have to consider one of two options: appointing a new mayor or holding a byelection.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is hoping that he can rally enough support among councillors to appoint the mayor himself, should he be forced from office.
"I think it's a matter of justice and fairness and if councillors will set politics aside for a moment, I think that they will see what I’m talking about it," Holyday told reporters on Monday.
"The fact is the judge said that the law is a blunt instrument in this case, which means that the penalty doesn’t fit what’s happened. It’s far too severe."
Holyday went on to say that he thinks 12-15 councillors would right now vote to a reappoint Ford. He would have to round up 23 votes in order to secure a majority that would allow for Ford to be reappointed.
The mayor’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, on the other hand, said that a byelection was the way to go.
"I believe in democracy, I believe in a byelection," Ford said Monday, when walking out of the Toronto court where his brother’s appeal was being heard.
"If the people want Rob to be mayor they will re-elect him. If they don't want Rob to be mayor they won't re-elect him and I think that’s fair to the people of Toronto."
But Ford said that it wouldn’t be his decision to make, in any case.
"In my opinion, I’d go for the byelection. But I’m not calling the shots — it's strictly up to Rob, up to the deputy mayor and up to city council," he said.
Coun. Adam Vaughan, a frequent critic of the mayor, said that the public may need to look to someone new to take the lead at city hall.
"While the mayor has been eager to sort of play out his political career in the court chamber, we actually need him in the council chamber," he told CBC News on Monday.
"And if we can’t get him, it's probably time for Toronto to look towards stronger leadership from somebody else."