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The Very Real Threat Behind The Removal Of Toronto Mayor From Office

Rob Ford celebrating a victory with the football team his charity provides to underprivileged youth

I took a couple of days off from the big blog to spend some time with Maggie and to recharge my brain. The plan was working just fine until yesterday when a court in Toronto removed the city’s mayor from office for conflict of interest.

For those of you who follow this blog and who are not completely familiar with the events leading up to yesterday’s court decision, here’s a quick background overview.

Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, by almost 50% of the vote. The rest of the votes were split between the other candidates. In other words, he won the election by almost a landslide.

He is a large, portly man who is physically awkward, bombastic and rough about the edges. More importantly, especially to the progressive folks on city council, Mr. Ford is a Conservative. I was never much of a fan of his approach to politics although I did concede two things. There was no pretense or artifice about him and he did what he promised to do. He got control of the city’s out-of-control finances reducing the budget deficit in very short order.

It made him popular with the public but not with his colleagues on council.

He also is very much a people person who, while still a municipal councilor, created a private registered charity to provide football for underprivileged youth in trouble. That, my friends, is what did him in.

While a councilor, Rob Ford sent out letters soliciting funds for his registered charity on City of Toronto letterhead. This, apparently, contravenes the ethical standards of politicians who lack the ethics to spend our tax money prudently or even wisely. It confuses me for two reasons. First, most municipalities provide budgets to their councilors and mayors from which they are permitted to make donations to community sports teams and charities. Mr. Ford did not avail himself of taxpayer money as many others do, he raised the money for his charity through public donations.

The second thing that confuses me is that it is not considered a conflict of interest for municipal politicians to use their offices and their stationary to solicit funds for all kinds of charities including the United Way. It appears that Mr. Ford’s sin was that he not only supported this particular charity, he started the charity to help disadvantaged youth.

After he was elected mayor, the newly appointed Ethics Commissioner for the city, undertook an investigation of the charity fund-raising and went before council to advise them that the good mayor was in contravention of the rules.

Mr. Ford asked to. and eventually did, speak to full council about the matter and then when the vote was held on whether or not he should be required to return out of his own pocket, the money raised, he then voted on the matter with the rest of council.

And that was the conflict of interest.

Subsequently, a private citizen with the legal support of one of Canada’s most left-leaning and expensive criminal lawyers filed a complaint against the mayor and that led to the court case and the mayor’s ultimate removal from office.

In his ruling, the judge stated:

“There was absolutely no issue of corruption or pecuniary gain”

In other words, unlike many politicians who skate close to and even over the ethical line, Mr. Ford was guilty of having done nothing for personal benefit. Instead, he committed a technical foul, broke what the judge also referred to as “a bad law that is poorly written”. Basically, he was removed from office not because he is corrupt but because he was stubborn.

And that was all the enemies of the mayor, and of this pesky thing called democracy, required to undermine a mayor they didn’t like and overrule the decision of the electorate.

They deny that, of course. They are filled with self-righteous and sanctimonious rhetoric about the rule of law but comments from various councilors and news media betray the real sentiment behind this action. The Globe and Mail wrote:

“The rogue reign of Rob Ford as mayor of Toronto was so unlikely, so weird, so crowded with pratfalls and cringe-making moments that it almost feels as if we dreamt the whole thing.

“Now a judge’s ruling has brought it to an abrupt end, tossing Mr. Ford from the office he won in an election just two years ago. In the fateful words of the judge, ‘I declare the seat of the respondent, Robert Ford, on Toronto city council, vacant.’

“All a weary Torontonian can say is, ‘Thank goodness.”

The arrogance behind this statement is unbelievable but it serves to underscore the self-righteous and shallow thinking and values of too many on the left, along with the chattering class who seem to think they know better what is good for the rest of us. These are the people who are increasingly undermining our democratic process with divisive, dishonest and even corrupt practices.

The complainant, Paul Magder who is a Toronto resident, admitted that this is the second time brought a complaint about the mayor before the courts. He claims it is to defend the rights of taxpayers but it’s difficult to see how fighting to remove a mayor who was successful at reigning in runaway spending of tax dollars and who raised money for charity was a threat. It is typical of progressives to hide behind fancy names for organizations that attempt to mask their real agenda.

Paul Magder (left) and his lawyer Clayton Ruby celebrating their victory over demcoracy

The left has been very critical of Rob Ford and all but silent about the mayor of London, Joe Fontana, who has been charged with criminal fraud but has refused to step down from office. The fact that Mr. Fontana is a former Liberal cabinet minister, while Mr. Ford is a Conservative, is probably coincidental. Surely, no ethical progressive would ever allow such distinctions to cloud their judgment when it came to ethical and legal matters.

But they do and they are and the hypocrisy is overwhelming. Sadly, many progressives don’t have sufficient character or values to understand that let alone be embarrassed by it.

Whether it is the Premier of Ontario proroguing the provincial legislature indefinitely to hide from having to face serious allegations of corruption over power plants and Ornge medical helicopter deals or the ongoing corruption inquiry in Quebec that has already seen two mayors resign somewhat abruptly, the progressive Liberal left has a disgraceful record of hypocrisy and corruption that has crossed the line of legality too often.

Adscam was a blatant theft of taxpayer money by the Federal Liberal Party of Canada which ultimately saw Liberal supporters, convicted and sent to prison for that egregious corruption as was another Liberal, a sitting senator last year who was also convicted of fraud.

The simple reality is that the progressive movement in Canada has no respect for the democratic process or for the electorate. It has repeatedly lied to voters in order to get elected, squandered billions on failed policies and programs, bought votes with cynical campaign moves using taxpayer money and now, has overturned a municipal mayoralty election on a technicality.

They have successfully thrown a mayor out of office for trying to help underprivileged children while ignoring the fact that one of their own is charged with criminal fraud but remains in office.

It is one thing to support one political ideology or another. We all have the right to support who we think most accurately represents the policies we believe are best for our country. We even have the right to disagree with each other and to debate it but nobody should have the right to use gamesmanship and technicalities to overcome the will of the people.

And, my friends, anyone who continues to support or make excuses for those who bring that level of cynicism and dishonesty to our political process, deserves the government they get.

Teachers, unions and the public sector are now discovering what it means to have supported a Premier who bought their votes with salary increases in the early days of his second mandate. After his last election, in which they were instrumental in helping him eke out a narrow minority government win, the Premier of Ontario turned on them; breaking the collective agreement with teachers, freezing public sector salaries and slashing doctor’s fees by $1 billion.

So much for integrity, so much for the stupidity of supporting those who lack integrity!

If you are a Canadian and you are not outraged by what happened in Toronto yesterday, you are part of what is undermining our democracy and you, as much as any politician or political party are responsible for what is happening and will continue to happen to this nation.

Three men, none of whom were elected to office: a judge, a citizen claiming to be defending the rights of taxpayers and a lawyer overturned the results of an election using one of the most ridiculous and absurd charges imaginable.

What happened in Toronto yesterday was no less than a stunning perversion of our legal system and our democracy and anyone who fails, or who lacks the values, to understand that only supports the further erosion and the fundamental principles upon which this country was built.


Christie Blatchford: 383,501 Torontonians voted for Rob Ford — not one voted for the men behind his ouster


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