Canada
Toronto mayor learns fate Friday

Mayor Rob Ford with assistant Isaac Ransom head to his car after his weekly radio show at NewsTalk 1010.

Credits: MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun/QMI Media

DON PEAT | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- Mayor Rob Ford will learn Friday if he stays parked at City Hall or forced to hit the road.
The three-judge panel mulling Ford's appeal of the conflict of interest decision throwing him out of office announced Wednesday their decision will be released Friday at 10:30 a.m.

The stakes couldn't be higher. If Ford loses the appeal, he'll be tossed out of office; if he wins, he stays in the mayor's chair for another two years.

If the judges rule Ford must vacate his seat, the spotlight will shift from the courtroom to City Hall and council will have to decide whether to replace Ford by appointment or a mayoral byelection.

High-profile lawyer Clayton Ruby launched the conflict of interest case against Ford last year on behalf of Toronto resident Paul Magder.

Ruby argued Ford violated the province's municipal conflict of interest legislation when he took part in a February council meeting debate about an integrity commissioner report on his failure to pay back improper donations to his children's football foundation as council had ordered last term.

At that meeting, Ford gave a long speech to council about his football foundation and then joined a majority of councillors in voting to forgive his failure to pay back $3,150 in donations.

After a dramatic trial that included Ford stumbling through hours of questioning from Ruby, the mayor was found guilty in November of violating the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

"It is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement, and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the integrity commissioner," Hackland stated in his ruling.

"In my opinion, (Ford's) actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to wilful blindness."

After Hackland's ruling, Ford vowed to appeal and apologized for his actions the next day.

"To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize," Ford said at the time.

During the Jan. 7 appeal, Ford's lawyer Alan Lenczner argued the mayor's violation of the act at the February council meeting was an error in judgment.

Lawyer Nader Hasan, Ruby's colleague, argued the act must apply in Ford's case and the original court decision ousting the mayor should stand.

"The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act belongs to the people. It is a way for the people to police government and it is a way for people to hold government to account when government behaves unethically," Hasan told court.

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