The verdict is out on the Rob Ford conflict of interest debacle. The judge’s decision is unequivocal – Rob Ford breached the conflict of interest law and the mandatory penalty has been imposed. As a progressive, I had hoped that it would not come to this – precisely because of the unfair and incorrect reaction that has arisen after this decision.
The conflict of interest law is without a doubt a blunt regulation. If you are in conflict – knowingly or in a position where you should have known – you are out. This was the decision that was made about Rob Ford. He did not accidentally or inadvertently break the rules. He was warned – multiple times. He barrelled on anyway based on his belief that the rules do not apply to him. The judge reminded him that they do. Given the current law, the decision was fair and accurate.
The “Ford Nation” and Sue Ann Levy interpretation that the decision represents a campaign by “vindictive leftists” is nonsense. All the leftists in the world could not have set Rob Ford up for a conflict of interest dismissal from office if Rob Ford had not committed the original conflict. And he did have a conflict and he was caught. The admittedly bad state of relations between the right and left is no worse now than during the Miller administration when Sue Ann and her cabal railed against “Socialist Silly Hall” without actually providing any substantiated backup to show that this was the case.
The idea that Mr. Ford should be absolved because his football charity is a “good cause” is also nonsense. When a millionaire asks lobbyists to contribute to his favourite charity – and they do – the only only motive of the contributor is to curry favour. This is the heart of any conflict of interest regime. Nobody should be able to curry favour by doing something for the Councillor. In any case, what the actual conflict case was about was Mr. Ford’s vote that he should not have to repay the $3,000 or so that had been requested by a previous council motion. This was not anything to do with “charity” – it was a direct pecuniary interest of the Mayor. I agree that the amount is trivial to Mr. Ford and that he was acting out of conviction – or stubbornness – or in actual fact a belief that the rules do not apply to him. The latter is the ledge that he stubbed his toe against.
While it is inconvenient to those of us who wanted to see the Buffoon removed from office by a vote in 2014, the decision is in every way sound.