The conflict of interest that led to Rob Ford being ousted as mayor of Toronto began with a sports charity close to his heart.
While still a councillor, Mr. Ford used city stationery to solicit donations for his football foundation from lobbyists, their clients and a corporation that does business with the city. Integrity commissioner Janet Leiper concluded in August, 2010, that doing so breached parts of the councillors’ code of conduct dealing with gifts and benefits, use of city resources and improper influence.
Her report – approved the same month by council – specified that Mr. Ford return to donors the $3,150 he had raised, money he said had already been spent on football equipment. She sent him repeated letters about the money, but he rebuffed these requests.
Council raised the matter again in February of this year, this time with Mr. Ford in the mayor’s chair. Although Mr. Ford had a financial stake – he would have to repay donors from his own pocket – he participated in the debate and cast a ballot in his own favour, voting with the majority to rescind the integrity commissioner’s report.
Paul Magder, a private citizen, complained to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that Mr. Ford’s actions had broken section 5(1) of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, which deals with how politicians handle matters in which they have a pecuniary interest. On Monday, Mr. Justice Charles Hackland found in his favour and, applying the act, ordered Mr. Ford’s seat vacated.