Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday expressed surprise Monday at a judge’s ruling that Mayor Rob Ford breached Ontario’s conflict of interest law and ordered him removed from office.
Justice Charles Hackland put a 14-day hold on his decision to allow time for judicial and municipal responses to the matter.
Ford told reporters gathered outside his office Monday “I’m going to appeal” the judgment.
Ford has 30 days to appeal. If he fails to get a stay of the ruling, council will have the option of either appointing a caretaker mayor for the remainder of the term, which ends in December 2014 or triggering an estimated $7 million by-election.
“I was surprised. I thought he might have the judge disagreed with what he did, but I thought the judge would maybe reprimand him in a different way, not take his position away from him,” Holyday said.
Ford could appeal the ruling to the Divisional Court and ask for a “stay” of Hackland’s ruling that would allow him to continue in his office, Holyday said, adding he expects Ford will do both.
It is unclear whether Hackland’s ruling prohibits Ford from running in any by-election for his seat before the regularly scheduled October 2014 municipal election.
The case centred around Ford’s decision to participate in a February council debate on whether he should be forced to repay $3,150 to lobbyists whose donations to his football foundation he improperly accepted.
The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, a provincial law, states members of council cannot speak or vote on issues in which they have a financial interest.
Holyday met with Ford after the ruling Monday, but said it was on other, scheduled matters. He described Ford as being disappointed by the ruling.
In the meantime, Holyday said his day-to-day duties at Toronto City Hall won’t change in wake of the decision.
“If Rob is not able to do his job for any reason, a hospital matter or some other matter, as deputy mayor, my duty is to take over. I don’t get all the authority that he has, but I get most of it. I would fulfill the duties of deputy mayor.
“But in the end, if Rob is not here, if he doesn’t get a stay and if he’s finally tossed out, then council will have to decide how to go forward: if they want to have a by-election, they have to make that decision (or alternately, vote to appoint a caretaker mayor for the remainder of Ford’s term).”
But Toronto City Council will only meet after any appeal by Ford is concluded. Should council vote to hold a by-election, the law dictates that by-election must be held within 105 days, Holyday said.
A by-election for mayor could create a domino effect with councillors running for the mayor’s seat and school trustees taking a run at councillors’ seat, Holyday forecasted.
“I think if there was a by-election for mayor, you’d find councillors wanting to run in it and school trustees wanting to run in the councillors’ spots. I don’t quite know how widespread this could be. It would be an onerous job for the clerk to try to deal with that matter because they only have 105 days, prescribed by law,” Holyday said.
“Or if somebody on council can get 23 votes behind them, they can make them the mayor.”
Holyday said he’d favour an appointment over a by-election for mayor, but only if that candidate continued the fiscally conservative agenda of the Ford administration.
“I’d like an appointment, but only if we can get someone appointed who is going to continue the agenda that the voters voted for,” Holyday said. “If I thought someone was going to try to take us back a step and give us the agenda that was here before that the voters threw out, that would be a different matter. If that’s going to happen, the voters should have a say.”
Holyday said he would “not rule anything out,” as to his own run for the mayor’s seat, but stressed he has not even discussed the matter with his family or close friends.