Mayor Rob Ford will stay on as mayor of Toronto, a Divisional Court panel of judges has decided.
The decision, released publicly at 10:30 a.m. and an hour earlier to parties in the case, strikes down last year’s conviction by Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland, on Ford’s violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA).
Hackland’s sentence was the minimum available: that Ford be removed from office, but that he be able to either run for the office in a byelection or accept a reappointment by Toronto City Council.
Ford appealed the decision to Divisional Court, successfully. Ford’s original conviction stemmed from a February 2012 Toronto council meeting, where Ford spoke and voted on a report from the city’s integrity commissioner, recommending he be made to refund $3,150 in donations made by lobbyists to his personal football charity.
The MCIA prohibits elected officials from speaking or voting on matters in which they have a financial interest. Ford’s lawyer Alan Lenczner in his appeal argued the ruling made several errors.
First, he said council had no power to force Ford to repay anything, and so the conflict didn’t exist. He also argued the amount was insignificant, and that Ford had made an honest error in judgement in choosing to vote on the matter.
The panel found enough merit in his arguments to overturn Justice Hackland’s conviction.