Voters in Toronto’s Ward 9 won’t be returning to the polls now that a court has ruled the results of last year’s election race are valid.
The unanimous ruling, issued late Monday by a three-judge panel of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, ends a bitter battle between incumbent Maria Augimeri and second-placed finisher Gus Cusimano, the candidate favoured by Mayor Rob Ford.
Ms. Augimeri, who has represented her Downsview ward for 26 years, has been fighting for her political life since April when Madam Justice Alexandra Hoy ruled that her 89-vote margin of victory in last year's municipal race was invalid due to “irregularities” in the voters list.
The councillor fought back and joined the city in appealing the decision.
Monday's ruling found “overwhelming” evidence that there was a “general endeavour” to conduct the election in accordance with the Elections Act.
“I am pleased that Justice [Michael]Dambrot writing on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel of the Divisional Court understood what we knew all along: that the 2010 Ward 9 Election was fair and valid and that no evidence exists to warrant a by-election,” Ms. Augimeri said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to protect our community from outside agendas and major service cuts that will hurt my community's most vulnerable.”
Mr. Cusimano called the decision “disappointing” and said he will consider his next move after he has spoken with his lawyer and had a chance to read the ruling. “I’m investigating all my options,” he said.
The ruling also applies to the election of Toronto District School Board trustee Stephnie Payne.
The city issued a statement late Monday saying it was “pleased this matter is resolved.”
Susan Ungar, the lawyer who argued the case for the city, said the decision "will ensure that elections will not be easily overturned."
The ruling "is an important one in that it affects future municipal, provincial and federal elections since most election statutes across the country have similar saving provisions to the one that was in issue in this case," she said.