Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at City Council on Monday March 5, 2012.
Credits: CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford is facing conflict of interest allegations that, if proven, could see him tossed out of office.
Lawyer Clayton Ruby announced Monday he's filed a legal application to remove Ford from office and ban him from running for council for seven years on behalf of Toronto resident Paul Magder.
Ruby alleges Ford violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act during a city council meeting on Feb. 7.
At that meeting, council voted 22-12 to rescind an earlier decision on an integrity commissioner complaint against then-Councillor Rob Ford and directed "that no further action be taken on this matter."
Ford took part in the debate and voted on the item.
The vote determined Ford no longer had to repay $3,150 in donations to his children's football foundation from lobbyists and clients of lobbyists.
Ruby, who has taken the case pro bono, denied it was politically motivated.
"I think it is about good government," Ruby said. "This is one of the crucial cornerstones of good government. It is enacted to protect the integrity of our public process to make certain that when a city councillor votes and speaks on a matter he's voting and speaking only in the public interest and not in his personal interest, direct or indirect."
Magder, 57, told reporters Monday that he's just doing his civic duty.
"I believe that our democratic rights also come with an obligation, I believe it is the duty of all citizens to ensure that our elected officials follow the rules and standards set out by our laws," Magder said. "I look around today and I see that our federal election process has been corrupted by dirty tricks, I look at the activities as such provincial agencies as ORNGE and I see our tax dollars have been stolen and misused. Now we see a municipal politician voting for his own monetary benefit when he should have excused himself from the debate and the vote because of a conflict of interest.
"I cannot stand by and do nothing while our councillors ignore their duties for whatever reasons. I believe that respect for the taxpayers means respect for the law."
During the 2010 election, Magder said he volunteered on the school trustee campaign of Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler. Chaleff-Freudenthaler led the charge in demanding a compliance audit of Ford's election campaign.
Asked how he feels knowing he could be the man to remove Ford from office, Magder said, "If he is found guilty and that's what the judge decides then I'll feel satisfied that I did my duty."
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti blasted the legal application as a "huge witch hunt."
"Since when has March become the month of the witch?" Mammoliti asked. "Why don't we just stick to politics?"
"When is the witch hunt going to stop?" he said. "When are people going to realize he was elected fair and square?
George Christopoulos, Ford's press secretary, was tight-lipped about the looming legal fight.
"Council already decided on the issue at its February meeting," Christopoulos said.