T.O. Mayor Rob Ford begins final legal battle to keep his job

Mayor Rob Ford leaves 361 University courthouse after taking the tunnel between Osgoode Hall and the courthouse.



TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford's last legal bid to save his job went to court Monday.

Ford's lawyer, Alan Lenczner, spent the morning in front of a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal arguing Judge Charles Hackland's decision to toss the mayor out of office for violating the municipal conflict of interest act should be overturned.

Hackland found Ford guilty 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.

Lawyer Clayton Ruby, whose client Paul Magder filed the original complaint. is expected to spend the afternoon arguing Hackland's decision should stand.

If Ford wins the appeal, he'll be able to stay in office, but if he loses, city council would have to decide whether to replace him through an appointment process or hold a mayoral byelection.

Ford was in the packed courtroom Monday with his brother Coun. Doug Ford and several staffers.

Ford said he was feeling "good" and was "very happy" with how things were going as he left the courthouse during the lunch break.

"I believe in the judicial system," Ford said.

Lenczner argued Ford's violation of the municipal conflict of interest act at the council meeting was an error in judgment.

He showed the court video of the mayor's speech at the council meeting in question, citing it as proof he had a "demeanour of an honest man."

"Do we want to throw out a mayor who served the city? Who was elected by these people, because he voted on one occasion? There is no pecuniary detriment to the city and no benefit," Lenczner told the court.

Lawyer Nader Hasan, Ruby's colleague, argued the municipal conflict of interest act must apply in Ford's case and the original court decision must 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.

He submitted that "reading down" the conflict of interest act would carve out a "whole swath of misconduct" for municipal officials.

After watching the morning's proceedings, Doug Ford said he felt confident in the judicial system.

He said if 12 jurors looked at the video of the mayor's speech to council played in court Monday they would agree the mayor did nothing wrong.

"There is no conflict. This is a man trying to help kids in needy areas," Doug Ford said.

"Again, this is ridiculous."

Asked if he thought his brother could win a byelection, Doug Ford said "absolutely, guaranteed, 100%."

"Because the people love him, he cares for the people, he's real, he's the average guy and he's saved a billion dollars for the taxpayers," he said. "I have confidence in the people."

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