More than half of Torontonians agree with a judge’s decision to remove Mayor Rob Ford from office after finding him guilty of breaking conflict-of-interest rules, a new poll suggests.

According to a Forum Research poll released to CP24 on Wednesday, 58 per cent of poll respondents back the court ruling, compared with 38 per cent who think Ford should be allowed to keep his job.

People appear to be split on whether Ford should be allowed to run in a byelection, if one is held. The poll found that 49 per cent believe the mayor should be barred from running in a byelection, while 47 per cent said he should be free to enter one.

If the poll is any indication, it appears some Torontonians who backed the mayor in the past may be changing their tune amid his well-publicized troubles.

Of those who said they voted for Ford in 2010, more than a quarter agree with the ruling, while close to a fifth of those who approve of the job Ford is doing said they agree with the judge.

Still, support within so-called “Ford Nation” remains strong, said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.

"Ford Nation is loyal, and having their hero thrown from office just solidifies their support,” Bozinoff said in a news release. “The majority of Torontonians, on the other hand, who are citizens of Reality Nation, appear to have just about reached the end of their patience with the mayor.”

Ford is attempting to overturn the ruling with an appeal and is seeking a stay of the decision, which would allow him to stay in office until the appeal is resolved.

If Ford loses his appeal or is denied a stay and is forced to vacate his council seat, city councillors must appoint an interim mayor or call a byelection.

Vaughan or Holyday for interim mayor?

The poll suggests most Torontonians want council to select an interim mayor from within.

Presented with three potential scenarios, 35 per cent of respondents prefer a byelection, 28 per cent want council to appoint the deputy mayor to lead council until the current term expires in late 2014, and 26 per cent said council should pick an interim mayor from within their ranks.

“This implies that as many as one half are prepared to allow council to fill the mayor's chair from among their number for the rest of the term until December 2014,” Forum Research said.

According to the poll, almost half of Torontonians are backing two well-known city councillors to become the city’s caretaker mayor, should that scenario unfold.

Forum Research said 24 per cent of respondents prefer Adam Vaughan, while 23 per cent back current deputy mayor Doug Holyday. TTC chair Karen Stintz came in third, with 13 per cent.

In an interview with CP24, Bozinoff said he was surprised most people want council to opt for an interim mayor.

“Usually when you ask a question like that people are in favour of having a referendum and letting the voters have their say," Bozinoff said.

He thinks the reported price tag of a byelection - upwards of $7 million - may be the reason most people are cool on the idea of a byelection.

Poll puts Chow ahead of others

People were also asked to weigh in on potential candidates the next time they head to the polls to elect a mayor, be it in a byelection or the 2014 municipal election.

According to the poll, more said they would vote for MP Olivia Chow than any other candidate in a number of proposed match-ups.

Chow, who has not declared an intention to run, would take 41 per cent of the vote in a race against Rob Ford (32 per cent), Vaughan (12 per cent), and Coun. Shelley Carroll (five per cent).

In a race against Coun. Doug Ford (26 per cent), Vaughan (16 per cent) and Carroll (five per cent), Chow would receive 40 per cent of the vote, the poll suggests.

Chow would garner 38 per cent of support if she was opposed by Holyday (29 per cent), Vaughan (14 per cent) and Carroll (four per cent).

Forum Research also asked respondents to back a candidate in these potential match-ups:

  • Rob Ford (29 per cent), Vaughan (27 per cent), radio host John Tory (26 per cent), Carroll (eight per cent)
  • Vaughan (31 per cent), Holyday (30 per cent), Carroll (12 per cent)
  • Rob Ford (37 per cent), Vaughan (33 per cent), Carroll (13 per cent)
  • Vaughan (37 per cent), Doug Ford (28 per cent), Carroll (12 per cent)

Here are some additional highlights from the poll:

  • Rob Ford’s approval rating remains at 42 per cent
  • One half of respondents (52 per cent) said the offence Ford was found guilty of merits removal from office, while 41 per cent disagree.
  • The judge allowed Ford to remain mayor for 14 days after his ruling; 36 per cent of respondents agree with that decision, 27 per cent think the mayor should have been kicked out of office immediately
  • Almost half (52 per cent) think Ford should remain mayor during his appeal, 43 per cent disagree
  • One-third (35 per cent) think the judge exceeded his authority
  • Two-thirds (61 per cent) agree the mayor has brought his troubles upon himself

Forum Research said the poll was conducted Monday, the day of the ruling, by an interactive voice response telephone survey of 807 randomly-selected Torontonians who are 18 years of age or older.

Results based on the total sample are considered accurate to within three per cent, 19 times out of 20, although subsample results will be less accurate.

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