Politics
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's appeal in court Monday

Credits: Dave ThomasToronto Sun/QMI Agency

DON PEAT | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO – The stakes couldn't be any higher for Mayor Rob Ford Monday.

Ford's lawyers will be in court trying to appeal the decision by Justice Charles Hackland tossing the mayor out of office for violating the province's municipal conflict of interest act.

Hackland found Ford guilty of conflict of interest for speaking and voting last February on whether council should accept an integrity commissioner report ordering him to pay back more than $3,000 in donations to his football foundation.

Ford's mayoralty has been on borrowed time since the decision. He won a judicial stay in December allowing him to remain in office pending the appeal.

If Ford loses this court battle, Toronto City Hall will be thrown into a political tailspin as council hashes out whether to appoint a replacement or plunge Canada's largest city into a multi-million dollar mayoral byelection just a year before the 2014 municipal election.

If Ford wins, he'll have another victory in a series of legal obstacles threatening his mayoralty.
Ford's lawyers are expected to argue Monday that Hackland made four errors of law when he ruled in November Ford should be kicked out of office.

"It is respectfully submitted that (Hackland), from the outset, adopted the wrong approach," Ford's lawyer Alan Lenczner argued in court documents filed last month. "Rather than applying the ordinary meaning to plain language and seeking to uphold the democratic decision of the voters who elected the mayor, by construing the MCIA 'strictly' and by searching for 'a reasonable interpretation which will avoid a penalty,' (Hackland) did the opposite of what the law demands."

Lawyer Clayton Ruby -- who represents Paul Magder, the Toronto resident who brought the case to court -- is expected to counter that Ford's ouster must stand.

"Elected municipal officials must govern in accordance with the rules that ensure an honest and transparent process," Ruby stated in court documents filed on Christmas Eve. "The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act is a cornerstone of democratic accountability.”

Ruby is expected to stress the act must be interpreted harshly to maintain the public's trust in elected officials.

Ford hasn't said much publicly about the court drama since he was ordered out of office.

"My decision to appeal is not a criticism of the court. But I feel it is important to work through the appeal system so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do," Ford said in a statement a day after the ruling was released.

In an interview with Newstalk 1010 last week, Ford said he hoped he would win the appeal but if not, he hoped he would be appointed to the mayor's chair by council.

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