Friday, January 25, 2013

Buffoonery continues at Toronto City Hall as Rob Ford wins appeal

The circus that is Rob Ford's bizarre Toronto mayoralty will continue after the manboy won his appeal to stay in office today after being found guilty of breaking conflict of interest laws late last year. You can read the Star's coverage of today's ruling here. It appears the appeal judges accepted Ford's lawyer's arguments that city council had no right to order him to repay money he improperly raised for his private charity helping high school male jocks to play football. Despite all the rules Ford broke in obtaining the money for his charity, despite the censure from the Integrity Commissioner, and despite Ford's own admissions in court that he doesn't understand the province's conflict of interest laws, he gets to keep his job largely on a technicality.

I agree with lawyer Clayton Ruby on this: "The Court has let Rob Ford off on a technicality. We find that disappointing, particularly since the Court found that Mr. Paul Magder was right on the facts. 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...Especially troubling is the finding that if a politician raises money from lobbyists and directs that money to his or her own personal interest, such abuse is beyond the reach of government oversight. This raises the possibility of American-style Political Action Committee (PAC) fundraising, which should be of great concern to all Canadians.”

Many say appealing to the Supreme Court is a legal long shot. I tend to agree. This affair seems over. It's disappointing but not the end of the world. I will agree now that the original penalty of being forced out of office seemed extreme considering the circumstances of the case. It's true the people who drafted our conflict of interest laws probably never contemplated a politician as ignorant, self-involved and slippery as Rob Ford bulldozing through all the possible protections for avoiding removal of office.

Ford is a dangerous bully. His buffoonish behaviour continues to be indulged, first by the 47% of voters who elected him despite his past indiscretions, and now by the courts. It's likely that Ford will continue along with no lessons learned. We'll likely see more of this nonsense again. The 2014 election cannot come soon enough.

The only upside is that this whole legal affair taints Mr. Ford even further in the minds of an increasingly skeptical Toronto public. Our city needs intelligent and reasoned leadership. Rob Ford is incapable of providing it. He seems to love the attention that his circus receives. Now without a rushed byelection campaign, his opponents now have more time to properly organize and campaign to defeat him. We can all take a breath and let the normal democratic process unfold as we await to remove this manboy from the mayor's chair in October 2014.

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