Rob Ford is facing a court date where he could be found in conflict of interest in his duties as Mayor and removed from office. If the Judge decides to do so, Mayor Ford could be barred from running again for up to 7 years. Here is a summary of the events that lead to this situation.
Rob Ford runs a commendable football programme for teenagers and has a non-profit charitable foundation which supports this work. Whatever one may think about Mr. Ford, it would be churlish to criticise his commitment to this cause and the cheerful way that he gives his time. In his overenthusiastic naive way Mr. Ford used City resources, including his Councillor letterhead, to solicit contributions to his charity. The letter was sent to lobbyists, or at least people who were on the City’s registered list of lobbyists. I received a copy. While it was obviously offside, there was no hint of partisanship or any attempt at political gain – only a request for support for this charity.
Mr. Ford was found to have made an improper solicitation by the City staff and asked to repay – from his own funds – the three thousand dollars or so that the campaign raised. Mr. Ford, being the person he is ignored several requests for payment of the requested amount.
After he was Mayor, City Council debated about whether, notwithstanding the findings of the staff, Mr. Ford should be absolved of any responsibility to repay this amount. This was an easy to support motion and cut through red tape to restore simple justice. While, it could be argued that the lobbyists who contributed to Mr. Ford’s favourite charity may have wanted to curry favour with the Councillor, now Mayor, the amounts were insignificant. Furthermore, it did not make sense for Mr. Ford to pay back a charitable donation with his own resources. The motion passed easily.
Unfortunately for Mr. Ford, he not only participated in the discussion of this motion, but he also voted on it. This was a clear conflict, but once again in his own brash way he ignored the rules. Technically, there is no doubt that he is guilty of a conflict. However, in the “real world” the affront is very slight and there was no personal gain for Mr. Ford.
I am disappointed that a faction that opposes the Mayor would use this situation as an attempt to unseat Mr. Ford. Even if the electorate acted rashly (as I think they did) in choosing Mr. Ford, the fact remains that he was democratically elected by a large plurality. This trivial conflict is not a good reason to turf a Mayor from office. However, his behaviour throughout the piece is also evidence that Mr. Ford should not be re-elected as Mayor. While this affair may be trivial, it is a clear illustration of his tendency to run roughshod over proper procedure and assume rights that are not really due to him. In this instance his “bull in the china shop” behaviour is unimportant. It is not unimportant with respect to Public Transit, Social Housing, Union Contracts or many other important areas.
I look forward to voting for another Mayor in 2014 and urging others to join me. I sincerely hope we will elect a new Mayor at that time. However, in the meantime, I hope he is acquitted of this charge and allowed to serve his term.