Toronto’s solicitor Anna Kinastowski said that it’s her legal opinion that Mayor Rob Ford would be prohibited from running in any byelection prior to the 2014 general municipal election.
Kinastowski made the statement during a brief question-and-answer session with Toronto Council at the beginning of the November meeting Tuesday.
Kinastowski was clarifying implications of the ruling by Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland, which found Ford guilty of violating the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
The sentence – removing Ford from office and barring him from running until the next term – has been open to interpretation. Ford and his lawyers believe that it means he can run in a byelection, because his term of office would effectively end when and if he is finally removed from it.
But Kinastowski said her – and the city legal department’s – reading of the decision suggests otherwise.
“There has been some discussion in the papers regarding Justice Hackland’s comment aobut the fact that Mr. Ford is disqualified from holding office for the remainder of the current term,” she said. “It is my opinion that the word ‘term’ means 2010 to 2014. That is our interpretation of that particular fact. If down the road there is a byelection and Mr. Ford does not agree, he can take action to get a judicial interpretation at that time.”
Kinastowski also shed some light on the way forward to council. Mayor Ford has announced that he will appeal the decision to Divisional Court, and ask for a stay of Justice Hackland’s decision, which would have Ford out of office 14 days after the decision was released.
The stay would mean that Ford would remain in office until the decision was rendered by the three-judge panel at Divisional Court.
At that point, the court could either uphold Justice Hackland’s decision, strike it down, or order a new trial.
Whatever the decision, council can do nothing until that happens. If Ford is finally removed from office, council will have 60 days to decide whether to appoint a caretaker mayor, or hold a byelection.
A byelection would cost approximately $7 million, and would be held over just 45 days.