Straight Talk
CHARLES ADLER - Dark day for democracy in Toronto

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks a City of Toronto economic development event in a former factory at the foot of Don Valley Parkway in Toronto on Thursday Nov.29, 2012.

Credits: Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/ QMI Agency

QMI AGENCY

The urban elites in downtown Toronto are celebrating. No, they're not celebrating the Argonauts' Grey Cup victory - that's because urban elites in Toronto don't care about the CFL!

Lefties in Toronto are celebrating Mayor Rob Ford's removal from office. They hated Ford from the get-go, as he vowed to end the "gravy train" at city hall, took on the unions, and went after left-wing pet projects like banning plastic bags and creating bike lanes.

But is this decision worthy of celebration? Don't these folks care about democracy?

The popular conservative mayor wasn't removed over a spending scandal or a betrayal of public trust. No, Mayor Ford was ousted because of an obscure conflict-of-interest statute in Toronto's municipal law. And the judge in his decision even said that there was "absolutely no issue of corruption or pecuniary gain." Nonetheless, Ford was ousted.

You see, Mayor Ford runs a charity to get at-risk youth involved in football. While the bleeding hearts at city hall mull over government programs to help the poor, Mayor Ford puts his money where his mouth is and devotes significant time and effort helping these kids.

One of his charity's fundraising letters was printed on City of Toronto letterhead. But get this: It wasn't even government resources - Ford insists on paying for his office's letterhead out of his own pocket! That said, using the letterhead was a mistake. It was a stupid mistake, but an honest one.

This issue of whether Ford should refund the $3,150 raised through this letter was brought up at city council. Mayor Ford should have left the room during this discussion, as he had a vested interest in the case. Instead, he participated in the discussion, made a speech, and voted on the issue. By the way, in that vote, council decided 22 to 12 to relieve Ford of any obligation to refund the money.

I'm not sure why the chair didn't ask Mayor Ford to leave the room during that discussion, but ultimately, it was Rob Ford's responsibility to leave. That's it. That's the "conflict of interest."

This is nothing like the real spending scandal that has plagued London mayor and former Liberal MP Joe Fontana, who is accused of diverting public funds to pay for his son's wedding. Or the billions of dollars Dalton McGuinty spent to close a few gas plants in order to save Liberal seats in the Ontario legislature. Or Alison Redford giving government contracts to family members while her sister expenses political fundraisers and social events to the taxpayers.

Why is this case different? Because it's Rob Ford, public enemy number one for the urban elites in Toronto.

This legal activism undermines democracy. When the left can't sell its ideas to win elections, it turns to dirty tricks in the court to get its way. This is nothing to celebrate.

Remember the federal coalition crisis in 2008? The left refused to accept that the Canadian people had democratically given Stephen Harper a mandate, so it attempted a coup d'etat. The Liberals teamed up with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois to try to push Harper out. Thankfully, the governor-general had the good sense to slap them down and let democracy stand.

Unfortunately for Toronto and the 383,501 folks who voted for Rob Ford, there is no similar oversight. It's a dark day for democracy in Canada's largest city.

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