Mayor Rob Ford says he is hoping for the best as he awaits a decision on his appeal of a conflict-of-interest ruling tossing him from office.

Speaking with reporters inside city hall Thursday afternoon, Ford said he’s feeling optimistic on what could be his final day as mayor.

A three-judge panel is expected to reveal their decision on Ford’s appeal in an email to lawyers at around 9:30 a.m. Friday. The decision will then be posted to the Superior Court of Ontario website an hour later.

“I believe in the judicial system and I’m just hoping for the best,” Ford said. “You roll with the punches and what will be will be.”

Ford’s appeal dates back to a November decision, in which Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ruled Ford broke the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act when he did not excuse himself from a city council vote on whether he should repay $3,150 he had solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead.

If Ford's appeal fails, his seat will be declared vacant and city council will either have the option of appointing a caretaker mayor or holding an election to fill the seat.

Ford has previously said that he will seek to be reappointed mayor if removed from office and would seek reelection failing that, however on Thursday he wasn’t interested in speculating.

“We will deal with that bridge if we come to it,” he said.

Colleagues await decision

With the decision in Ford’s appeal expected to trigger widespread chaos at city hall, many councillors spent Thursday discussing what their next step might be should the original verdict be upheld.

“I think there are a lot of councillors from all parts of the political spectrum that are in shock and there is a lot of disappointment going on,” Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker told CP24. “Many of us are expecting that by this time tomorrow we will not have a mayor in the City of Toronto and I don’t think we have ever been faced with that before, but unfortunately that’s where we expect we are going to be.”

The cost of a byelection is pegged at $7-10 million, which has lead to many questioning whether the cash-strapped city should go that way, but on Thursday De Baeremaeker said he is becoming increasingly convinced that the people must have a say.

“The more I reflect on it the more I think a byelection is the way to go,” he said. “In Scarborough there are 650,000 people and if we were to appoint somebody like Doug Ford, who I think would be a natural replacement, nobody in Scarborough has ever voted for him, so I think it is fair to give the people an opportunity to say who they want to be their mayor.”

While many councillors have publically spoke in favour of holding a byelection, a smaller faction, including Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and councillors Doug Ford and Norm Kelly have suggested that council should reappoint Ford to the mayor’s chair if the seat is declared vacant.

On Thursday Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, who resigned from Ford’s executive committee immediately following Hackland’s original ruling, added his voice to those pushing for Ford’s reappointment.

“I will be the first one to nominate Mayor Ford back into his current position on council and I’ll be doing that whenever the deputy mayor calls that meeting,” he said. “We have an agenda in this city, that agenda needs to continue and this mayor was elected with that agenda whether the courts have determined to oust him or not.”

Other people who have expressed interest in being appointed to serve out Ford’s term include councillors Gloria Lindsay Luby and Doug Holyday, though the latter said he would only do so if council refuses to reappoint Ford.

Campaign expense audit findings forthcoming

The conflict-of-interest ruling isn’t the only matter currently threatening Ford’s job.

An ongoing third-party audit of the mayor’s campaign expenses is currently being completed and if Ford is found to have violated the Municipal Elections Act he could be removed from office.

Speaking with CP24 Thursday, Coun. Adam Vaughan said council must take that into consideration when deciding how to proceed if Ford’s appeal fails.

“If the seat is vacated and Rob Ford is booted from office that’s one part of the equation, but there is also the other issue and that is the allegation of his campaign finances irregularities and the allegations that he cheated,” Vaughan said. “If the audit committee finds that he did cheat in the last election, I think that tempers the decision we have to make. Rob Ford could be the first person kicked out of the mayor’s office twice in one week let alone twice in one month.”

The findings of the campaign expense audit, which dates back to April, are expected sometime in February.

Speaking with CP24 Thursday afternoon, Coun. Shelley Carroll said if an election is pushed back due to the audit or any number of other factors it may make more sense to simply appoint a candidate.

In November, Carroll had suggested that she wanted to be the one to go head-to-head with Ford in a byelection following a heated meeting at city hall in which the mayor butted heads with several left-leaning councillors.

“I was out of the gate admittedly in anger after a night in which the mayor behaved particularly badly in the council chamber, but I’m listening to the public now and people are coming up to me wherever I go and saying ‘I’m nervous about the money, I’m nervous about the money,’” she said. “We have to listen to that and if it is June and that means we are having a byelection for seven months of leadership that’s pretty compelling. Don’t spend the money at that point.”

Hackland’s original ruling would have seen Ford removed from office after a 14-day period, but the mayor was granted a stay of the order pending appeal.

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