Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Blames Left-Wing Conspiracy for Court-Ordered Ouster

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Blames Left-Wing Conspiracy for Court-Ordered Ouster

Article excerpt

Rob Ford blames left-wing politics for ouster

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TORONTO - A subdued but still defiant Mayor Rob Ford blamed a left-wing conspiracy for his court-ordered ouster Monday, pledging to fight "tooth and nail" against a possibly unprecedented ruling that booted him from office for violating conflict of interest rules.

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. …

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