Ford apologizes but says he did nothing wrong
Chris Kitching and Sandie Benitah, cp24.com
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 6:30AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2012 11:02PM EST
Embattled Mayor Rob Ford made a public statement Tuesday afternoon, apologizing for the way he handled the controversial vote that got him legally removed from office.
However, Ford also said he didn't believe he was doing anything wrong at the time because he was simply trying to help.
"The entire matter began because I love to help kids play football," he said. "When this came to council for the vote in question, I felt it was important to answer the accusations that had been made against me. I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth. I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain. And the city had nothing to lose."
Ford said although he is appealing the ruling, he respects the decision that was handed down Monday morning by Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland that found him to be in violation of provincial conflict-of-interest rules.
The mayor was accused of not declaring a conflict of interest when he participated in a city council vote on whether he should repay $3,150 in donations he solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead.
In his decision, Hackland said Ford showed “a stubborn sense of entitlement” and acted with “willful blindness” when he didn’t declare a conflict of interest.
The lawsuit was launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder, who was represented by lawyer Clayton Ruby.
Hackland's ruling was that the mayor be removed from office within 14 days of the court's decision. Ford was also ordered to pay back the $3,150 in donations he had amassed.
"I respect the court's decision that was released yesterday," Ford said as he read out his pre-written statement in the members lounge of city hall. "My decision to appeal is not a criticism of the court but I feel it is important to work through the appeal system so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do."
"Looking back, maybe I could have expressed myself in a different way," he continued. "To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize."
Ford refused to answer questions from reporters afterwards because the matter is before the courts.
Although Ford has vowed repeatedly to run in a byelection, the city's solicitor says he may not legally be allowed to do so.
City solicitor Anna Kinastowski says her interpretation of the judge's ruling is that Ford would be banned from running in a byelection before the current four-year term ends in 2014.
If Ford doesn't agree with that interpretation, he can challenge it, Kinastowski said during Tuesday's city council meeting.
Kinastowski attended the meeting to explain the measures councillors may be forced to consider - a byelection or interim mayor, for instance - if Ford loses a legal challenge to keep his job and has to be replaced.
But Kinastowski assured councillors they won't have to make a decision for some time because they must await a divisional court's ruling on Ford's appeal, once it is filed.
In addition to an appeal, Ford is planning to seek a stay of the decision, which would allow him to stay in office pending the outcome of the appeal.
Ford’s lawyer, Alan Lenczner, told CP24 the application for a stay of the decision will be heard Dec. 5. His appeal will go before a judge on Jan. 7, 2013.
In her remarks, Kinastowski explained potential scenarios that may unfold as Ford challenges Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland's order for him to vacate his city council seat for breaking provincial conflict-of-interest rules.
If Ford is granted a stay, it will be “business as usual” at city hall with Ford at the helm until the divisional court delivers its decision, Kinastowski said.
If the mayor is not granted a stay and his appeal falls flat, city council will have 60 days to appoint an interim mayor or call a byelection. However, Kinastowski told councillors it is still premature to consider that scenario.
The divisional court's decision cannot be appealed, Kinastowski said during the meeting, where Ford is facing his city hall colleagues for the first time since Monday's ruling in what may be his final city council meeting as Toronto's mayor.
Should Ford's appeal fail, council will likely call a special meeting to determine how to proceed, said Coun. Shelley Carroll.
“We need to really be careful with this decision,” Carroll told CP24 as she took a break from the meeting.
Mayor should reconsider appeal, Mammoliti says
Before Tuesday's council meeting, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, a Ford backer who is now being accused of distancing himself from the mayor, told reporters Ford should take a step back and reconsider his appeal.
Earlier in the morning, Mammoliti called the situation a "crisis" for city hall, and said he would not support a byelection because he thinks it would be a waste of money with two years left in the current four-year term.
Instead, he would prefer council to appoint a “caretaker” mayor if Ford’s appeal fails.
“It doesn’t make sense for me or the taxpayers to spend $7 million (on a byelection),” Mammoliti told CP24. “We can caretake this thing. We’ve got enough councillors who know what they’re doing.”
Mammoliti later said he would support deputy mayor Doug Holyday if city council has to pick an interim mayor.
He said an interim mayor must be someone who would step in temporarily and not run for the position in the 2014 municipal election, and a person who would support the current agenda, Mammoliti said.
“We’re in a crisis mode right now not knowing what will happen," he said.
Ford attends Argos rally
A day after the ruling, Ford is sticking to his mayoral duties and making a couple of public appearances.
At a rally for the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts, the mayor was front and centre as he welcomed the team and Grey Cup trophy before reading a proclamation declaring Tuesday “Toronto Argonauts Day” in the city.
Ford was greeted by cheers and some boos when he stepped on stage.
At 8 p.m., Ford was on the sidelines as his Don Bosco Eagles high school football team played in the Metro Bowl against Newmarket's Huron Heights Secondary School at Rogers Centre.
Huron Heights won the game 28-14.
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