Credits: ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford promised to stick around City Hall for another six years Friday -- in his first statement after a judicial ruling saved his political life.
The boast -- a confident prediction of a 2014 election win -- prompted outrage from Ford's council critics and applause from his remaining allies.
Around two hours earlier, in his lawyer Alan Lenczner's office just a few blocks from City Hall, Ford found out he won his appeal of the conflict of interest ruling that ordered him out of office last November. As another lawyer delivered the news, Ford got a "big hug" from his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, and there were "handshakes all around."
An hour later, the relieved-looking Ford muttered "Holy smokes" as he saw the sea of reporters waiting outside the mayor's office. Cheers from his staff could be heard as he walked inside.
While the Fords celebrated, Paul Magder -- the Toronto resident who took the mayor to court -- and his pro bono lawyer, Clayton Ruby, refused to speak to reporters outside Ruby's office. A statement released by Ruby promised to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal hinting Ford's court fight may not be over yet.
But back at City Hall, Ford told a press conference the whole ordeal -- which he considers over -- "has been a very, very humbling experience."
"I have enormous respect for the judicial system and I'm very, very thankful for the decision it made today," Ford said, flanked by deputy mayor Doug Holyday and Councillor Ford.
The mayor thanked his legal team and his family for their support through the court fight.
Ford said he will be focused on City Hall and pushing ahead with his agenda "for the next six years."
"We are running this city better than any administration ever has," he said.
The three-judge panel threw out the ruling by Justice Charles Hackland ordering Ford out of the mayor's chair for violating the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
In the original trial, Ruby successfully argued Ford violated the provincial legislation when he took part in a February council debate about the integrity commissioner's report on his ongoing failure to respond to an order from the previous city council to pay back $3,150 in improper donations to his youth football foundation.
The divisional court panel ruled the original council decision ordering Ford to pay back the money was invalid.
Once that decision was nullified, Ford was no longer in contravention of the Act.
Ruby's statement claimed "the Court has let Rob Ford off on a technicality."
We believe that there are serious errors of law in the judgment and we will ask the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal to that Court. It must be acknowledged that such appeals are not easy but this remains an important issue for all citizens."
Ford shrugged off the threat of a Supreme Court appeal.
"I have a city to run," Ford said. "That's up to him, I can't worry about that."
Coun. Joe Mihevc accused Ford of not being "remorseful" following such a close brush with losing his seat.
"He sounded like a mayor who is going to continue business the way he has conducted business for the last two years which is what got him into trouble in the first place," Mihevc said.