On Monday, Nov. 26, after 10 a.m., Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday could be in for a promotion.
That’s when Ontario Court Justice Charles Hackland will be delivering his long-awaited ruling on whether Mayor Rob Ford violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
Ford took the stand defending himself against the charges in September. Charges that he spoke and voted on an integrity commissioner report requiring he pay back $3,150 in donations to his football charity because they were improperly collected.
Prominent Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby, who prosecuted the complaint, argued that doing so Ford violated the act. If Ford is found guilty, and Hackland dismisses defence arguments that the amount of money involved was too small, or that Ford made an honest mistake, the act requires at minimum he be removed from office.
Holyday, speaking to reporters Friday, Nov. 23, morning, said he didn’t think it likely he’d be measuring the mayor’s office for drapes any time soon.
“I think the mayor will still be mayor on Monday,” said Holyday. “I don’t know what the judge will say but I’m pretty sure after he says it, (Ford) will still be the mayor.”
If Ford were to be removed from office, Holyday said likely the job would go to him until council had an opportunity to weigh in and decide what to do next. Council would have before it two options: to hold a byelection for mayor, or appoint a caretaker mayor to play out the rest of the term.
Holyday said he personally would support a byelection, if the alternative were to appoint a caretaker who didn’t share Ford’s right-wing political views.
“I’m not willing to support someone who’s going to change the agenda,” said Holyday.
“If that was an option that’s not going to succeed, I want an election. I think the public have spoken and the public have agreed with the agenda that Rob Ford has put forward. I think there’s more to be done – and if something occurred and if someone was to lead council, I would want them to lead it in that same way.”
Holyday, a council veteran, admitted he’d never seen anything like this – although he recalled former Etobicoke Mayor Dennis Flynn’s departure to chair the old Metro Council in 1984 resulted in an appointment to replace him.
“Council had to make an appointment, there was only one year, and that was quite a fight on council,” he said. “I put my name forward but I didn’t have much success with my own people.”
Holyday also had some stern advice for Ford, in the wake of the court case and other “distractions” that have defined his mayoralty.
“Well right from the start with this situation right or wrong, the mayor has led with his chin,” he said.
“He’s opened the door for someone to take some action that’s inconvenient, and that’s what’s happened. The opposition to the mayor is quite strong and the opponents are quite capable and when they get an opportunity, which he’s given them, they take advantage. All this aggravation and cost and inconvenience has only come about because he stayed in at council and voted on the matter, rightly or wrongly.”
Holyday expressed frustration with Ford’s behaviour – and doubts that Ford would learn from his mistakes.
“I don’t know – I don’t know that anybody knows,” he said. “He certainly does have a mind of his own. Sometimes I speak with him and think things are going to be fine, and then he does what he does...I think everybody’s capable of change, and I wish he would. Like I think that he should have a driver. There’s no way the mayor of Toronto should be driving around thinking, where are they going to park their car.”
Holyday said that the risk of Ford’s behaviour is that it detracts from the small-government agenda on which Ford was elected.
“These distractions detract from the agenda and that is what I care about most of all down here,” he said. “That we do some of the things that we’re doing. It’s taken a lot of time to do these things here, other mayors wouldn’t do it, and this wouldn’t happen without the support of the mayor. Now we have a mayor who supports this and knows what needs to be done, and we’ve just got to keep the train on the tracks.”