Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rail fracas not part of Toronto mayor’s ouster

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A judge Monday ruled that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford violated conflict of interest laws and therefore cast the mayor out of office. But Ford's preference for subways instead of light rail transit, a hot political issue in Toronto throughout 2012, does not appear to be a factor in the judicial decision.

In a 24-page ruling, Ontario Provincial Judge Charles Hackland said Mayor Ford acted wrongly when he voted with the city council to scrap a fine he had incurred as a city councilman for accepting donations for his football foundation from lobbyists.

"In my opinion, the respondent's actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to willful blindness," Judge Hackland wrote. The judge suspended his decision for 14 days to allow the city to sort out administrative difficulties.

Ford on Monday told local media "left-wing politics" were responsible for his ouster. Ford said he would appeal the ruling, and continued his duties as mayor on Monday.

But on Tuesday City Solicitor Anna Kinastowski told the City Council Ford cannot run in any byelection run to replace him. Ford's lawyer publicly had interpreted the judicial decision citing "end of the term" to be a period of 14 days, ending Dec. 10. But Kinastowki said, "It is my opinion that word term means 2010 to 2014,” the period for which Ford was elected.

The mayor has continually clashed with the Toronto Transit Commission, which sought to implement an expansive light rail transit plan formulated prior to Ford's becoming mayor, and which the mayor initially overturned, before TTC in turn reversed course itself and reaffirmed its commitment to LRT, initially labeled the "Transit City" plan.

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