Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a better chance of keeping his job temporarily now that lawyer Clayton Ruby has announced his client won’t oppose a stay of a judge’s decision to remove Mr. Ford from office.
“We are agreeing to this stay to give the city of Toronto a measure of stability, something that has been wholly absent during Mr. Ford’s term in office,” Mr. Ruby said in a release Monday.
Mr. Ford’s lawyer, Alan Lenczner, confirmed that a hearing scheduled for Wednesday will still go ahead as planned.
A single judge will decide whether Mr. Ford remains in office until the Divisional Court rules on Mr. Ford’s appeal.
The appeal hearing is scheduled to begin Jan. 7, with a decision expected weeks later.
Mr. Ruby and his client, Paul Magder, are still fighting the appeal. But their decision not to oppose the stay would likely make it easier for the mayor’s lawyer to persuade the court to suspend the original decision for the time being.
“This is a really smart move. It just saves everyone a lot of additional hassle,” said John Mascarin, a municipal law expert with Toronto firm Aird and Berlis LLP. “The court will still have to consider [the stay], but it’s made it measurably easier for [Mr. Lenczner] now.”
The mayor’s press secretary, George Christopoulos, said: “The mayor’s lawyer will be in court on Wednesday to request a stay and we hope the stay is granted."
Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, welcomed the move. "Absolutely it’s good news," he told reporters, but added that the matter is still up to the court. "No one is confident. You just don’t know nowadays. You just don’t know what the courts will decide," he said. "We’ll let the courts decide and if it comes to a by-election we’ll let the people decide."
Asked how his brother was holding up, Mr. Ford said, "He was down, to say the least." His mood has been helped, he said, by the support he has received. “Everywhere we go – no matter if it is a restaurant or whatever – every person is coming up to us, telling us, ‘Keep focused, don’t give up and keep going forward.’ So that is what we are going to do," he said.
Last week, Mr. Justice Charles Hackland of the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Mr. Ford broke a conflict-of-interest law when he spoke and voted in favour of excusing himself from repaying $3,150 in improper donations to his football charity.
The law carries a mandatory penalty of expulsion from office.