THE CITY: Legal system a popular weapon in Toronto...
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Feb 07, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

THE CITY: Legal system a popular weapon in Toronto politics

Scarborough Mirror

It’s been a big winter for the left-wing anti-Rob-Ford illuminati. They nearly toppled our virtuous, football-loving mayor for the crime of loving football too much. Fresh from that near-total-victory, the skulking fiends saw fruits of their other investigations – in the form of a compliance audit of Mayor Ford’s 2010 election campaign.

This is serious business: the same pack of villains saw another sometime-Ford-ally, Giorgio Mammoliti, could be facing prosecution for his own alleged electoral sins in 2010.

If you listen to the mayor and his allies, the scoundrels are engaged in an unfounded, partisan and political attack on democratically-elected politicians, the like of which has never been seen.

And if you believe that, you haven’t spent much time watching Toronto politics.

Because while it’s true that this latest round of legal challenges brought forward have come from citizens who it’s fair to say don’t agree with the direction in which Ford is taking the city – using the courts to win fights you can’t win at the ballot box is not an exclusively left-wing tactic.

In the 2006-2010 term, it was councillors on the left who were in the spotlight. Former councillors Sandra Bussin and Adrian Heaps both incurred stiff legal fees to deal with issues while in office.

When the two councillors – along with Mammoliti, then an ally of Mayor David Miller – had their expenses reimbursed, future Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday took the city to court, and won. Holyday’s move was a matter of principle, to be sure – he didn’t think taxpayers should be reimbursing legal fees for members of council – but it’s hard not to see it as political as well. After all, those three were allies of left-of-centre Mayor Miller: Holyday was then firmly entrenched in the right-wing opposition.

All of this is – or should be – beside the point. The reality is that everything that goes on having to do with politicians is political.

Everyone who comes to city hall does so with an agenda — whether improving their neighbourhood, improving the lot of the disadvantaged, or finding the gravy that’s costing taxpaying Torontonians an arm and a leg. Sometimes, their agenda is more visceral: putting politicians with whom they disagree on these points out of office.

The legal system might be a weapon of choice for those players from time to time. But whatever the motive anyone has for engaging it, once engaged the system has a way of sorting things out. And if politicians are found to be in breach, they really only has one enemy to blame – themselves.

David Nickle is the Mirror’s City Hall reporter. His column appears every Thursday. He can be reached at

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