By: Alex Ripley
Observing Canadian politics from afar (for those of you who don’t know, I’m in Edinburgh right now, and not the one in Indiana), one often gets a compressed view of events. Today, the events seemed compressed, but had instead simply unfolded with astonishing rapidity. Before noon EST, Canada’s most powerful mayor, a central banker, a former B.C. cabinet minister, and three vacant federal ridings were all in the headlines.
Adios, Mr. Ford
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was unceremoniously deposed this morning after a city judge found him as being in violation of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Ford will formally depart as Mayor within the next fourteen days, but will be able to run again for the office and may appeal the Court’s decision. Justice Charles Hackland possessed, but did not exercise, the option of barring Ford from running for election for a period of up to seven years.
Ford’s fall at the hands of the courts represents but the most recent (and almost certainly not the last) episode in the history of what has been called Toronto’s “most bizarre” mayoralty. First elected in 2010, Ford campaigned on a platform of “respect for taxpayers.” He was unrefined and unrepentant, and suburban Toronto loved it. The city that had elected the progressive David Miller put its faith in a Tory. Things quickly went south. Ford’s austerity budget in 2011 was massively controversial; so were his emergency calls on reporters and his requisitioning of a packed TTC bus for the benefit of his football team.
Ford’s fall from grace stems from his actions at a council meeting on February 7th of this year. The Toronto Star reports:
“The city’s integrity commissioner ruled in 2010 that then-councillor Ford was wrong to use official letterhead and other city resources to solicit donations from people lobbying him for his namesake football foundation.
Council agreed and ordered Ford to repay $3,150 to lobbyists, their clients and onprivate firm. Ford ignored six reminders from the integrity commissioner before she brought the issue back to council Feb. 7.
There, Ford made an impassioned speech about why he shouldn’t be forced to repay the money, arguing it was spent distributing football equipment to schools. He voted with the 22-12 majority to cancel the order that he repay.
In March, Toronto resident Paul Magder alleged Ford broke a provision in the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act which states elected officials can’t speak to, or vote upon, items in which they have a “pecuniary interest.” (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/1293190–mayor-rob-ford-guilty-kicked-from-office-but-can-run-again)
What will come of this? It’s interesting to speculate. Ford could be viewed as a martyr, and swept to victory in a future election. Another thought: Ford received more votes than any other single elected representative in Canadian history. Is it right for the decision of the electorate to be overturned by an unelected judge, especially in relation to a comparatively minor offence? You decide.