Mayor Ford Removal Decision

The decision in the Rob Ford conflict of interest case is available here; as soon as the CanLII version becomes available I’ll update this post.

Notable excerpts, on a first skimming:

Section 5 of the MCIA clearly and broadly states that where a member, “has any pecuniary interest … in any matter,” and is present at a meeting of council, he or she is to disclose his or her interest and must neither take part in the discussion of nor vote on the matter. There is no basis on which the court can restrict or read down the meaning of “any matter” to exclude potential financial sanctions arising from Code of Conduct violations. I note parenthetically that reading down the operation of statutory provisions otherwise applicable is a constitutional remedy and no Charter issues have been raised by the parties in this proceeding. Furthermore, there is no authority for implying a right to be heard in the face of a statutory provision (such as s. 5(1) of the MCIA), which specifically denies such a right.

I would regard these [procedural fairness] considerations as requiring study and possibly law reform, but they cannot provide a basis for restricting clear statutory provisions. In any event, audi alteram partem does not have anything to do with and cannot provide a justification for voting (rather than speaking) on a matter, as the respondent chose to do in this case.

[46] The mandatory removal from office for contravening s. 5(1) of the MCIA is a very blunt instrument and has attracted justified criticism and calls for legislative reform. Professor David Mullan, Toronto’s former Integrity Commissioner, described this provision as a “sledgehammer” in the course of his observations in a report to City Council, dated September 21, 2006:
Even more importantly, the City should make every endeavour to persuade the provincial government to either modernize the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act or confer on the City of Toronto authority to create its own conflict of interest regime in place of or supplementary to that Act.

[51] I find that the respondent’s conduct in speaking and voting on the matter involving his repayment obligation did not occur through inadvertence. Inadvertence involves oversight, inattention or carelessness. On the contrary, the respondent’s participation was a deliberate choice.

In view of the significant mitigating circumstances surrounding the respondent’s actions, as set out in paragraph 48 of these reasons, I decline to impose any further disqualification from holding office beyond the current term.

UPDATE: A better-formatted version of the decision is available from us in PDF.


  1. Oh, great. So now Ford gets to run for mayor for the next two years as a victim of the system and legal technicalities, without any responsibility to actually run anything or make hard decisions (both of which he does not do well). I hope that justice Hackland said some things about Ford’s general approach to public life, which is that the rules don’t apply to him because his heart is pure. That is not an acceptable attitude in a system that respects the rule of law. But Ford does not respect the rule of law, just the rule of Ford.