"Is that the demeanour of someone who is trying to hide something or is it the demeanour of an honest man?" Lawyer Alan Lenczner thundered upon hearing last February's speech by Toronto mayor Rob Ford. In it, the mayor defended a charity he runs for high school football teams, under scrutiny because of $3,150 in donations that the integrity commissioner said were obtained improperly. Ford said at the time that he should not be forced to repay money he never received personally.
"Do we want to throw out a mayor... who was elected by the people because he voted on one occasion for no... detriment to the city and no benefit to himself?" Lenczner asked a panel of judges during Ford's appeal hearing in downtown Toronto.
Alan Lenczner is a damn good lawyer -- arguably the best litigator around. And he did a bang-up job in court on Monday.
His argument is a legitimate one -- is it proper to remove a mayor elected by a democratic vote because of a technical breach of a statute?
But his argument won't work.
That's because it is a policy argument and not a legal argument.
The statute is fairly clear and while I thought the court would find the money involved was immaterial (and factually I think it is) once the court ruled the money was not immaterial the removal of Mayor Ford inevitably followed. There was no alternative.
And the finding the money was material was a finding of fact based on a careful and legitimate examination of the evidence. Once that finding was made the appeal court has to defer to the judge below -- even if they disagree with the finding of fact.
Appeal Courts, in general, are not there to reconsider facts -- just law.
The appeal will fail.
Sorry this #fordcourt verdict is taking so long. The judge was coaching football this morning and will get around to it soon.
Rob Ford got kicked out of mayors office? WOWWWWW!! Hes hopping on that gravy train right back home.
rip rob ford. stung by a hoard of vicious gravy wasps.
Now I await all Rob Ford memes. #topoli #comeatmebro
Oh, my. Rob Ford has been removed from his office as mayor. Toronto politics just got rather interesting. http://t.co/Ltpmkac6
Rob Ford needs new business cards asap!
Terrifying thought: Governor of the Bank of Canada job is open. Rob Ford is looking for a job. ARRGGHHH! #Cdnpoli
BREAKING: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford found guilty of violating conflict of interest act, removed from office http://t.co/o0BBzIgp #topoli
#topoli Imagine if #toronto invested as much time and attention to transit financing as we spend distracted by @TOMayorFord latest antics.
Its a sad day for hard working comedians throughout Toronto. It appears Rob Ford's been booted from office (pending appeal) #RobFord #TOpoli
No more coach/mayor Ford! #topoli
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
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
Hey #Toronto, #RobFord might be out of office now so get yourselves educated about the issues and make informed choices. #topoli #onpoli
Who's going to drive the gravy train in the parade :(. #TOpoli #RobFord
Watching the Rob Ford circus is more fun, but Carney leaving Canada for England is bigger and more important news #topoli
Oh boy - we're gonna see Jabba the Mayor kick it into serious victim mode now! #RobFord #TOpoli
Also, Rob Ford is trending worldwide. (Let's hope just this once and never again.) #TOpoli
If Rob Ford and Dalton McGuinty just traded positions, Toronto would have subways all over the place. #topoli #onpoli
I wonder if Rob Ford will appeal the decision or leave quietly with his last shred of dignity. #TOpoli
On the otherhand Doug Holyday will make an excellent Interim Mayor for #toronto #topoli #tocouncil
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
Have You Driven a Ford (out of office) Lately? #topoli #fordcourt
Follow James Morton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@MortonsMusings