Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis has again been removed from office over election spending after exhausting his legal avenues for fighting the expulsion.
The former councillor, whose Scarborough seat was declared officially vacant shortly after the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal, is also legally barred from running again in the next election, in 2022. Council will debate later this month how best to fill his seat.
In a statement posted on his website, Mr. Karygiannis said he would no longer seek office. Without mentioning the legal troubles that brought him to this point, he thanked his family and wrote that he was “leaving politics.” He declined an interview request.
Fair elections advocate Adam Chaleff, whose complaint prompted Mr. Karygiannis’s removal, was gratified with the court’s decision.
“Thanks to everyone who supported the effort to hold Jim Karygiannis to account for cheating his way back to city council,” he wrote on Twitter.
The long-running battle, which saw the veteran politician removed and reinstated twice in the past 10 months, was sparked by an admission of overspending in the 2018 election.
Mr. Karygiannis was first removed from office last November after his own financial statement showed he had shattered the spending limit in one part of the Municipal Elections Act.
Under the act, the limit for candidates in Mr. Karygiannis’s ward for spending on “parties and other expressions of appreciation” after the election was a maximum of $6,121.
Mr. Karygiannis’s original financial statement showed he had spent nothing in that category. But under the fundraising category, which had no spending limit, it showed that he had paid $5,000 for a victory-night party and $27,083.50 for a dinner two months later.
After questions were raised, Mr. Karygiannis filed a supplementary financial statement that designated both events as parties or appreciation. Taken together, they totalled more than five times the maximum allowed for such spending. That admission of overspending automatically nullified his victory.
Mr. Karygiannis went to court last November to fight his removal, where his lawyer blamed a clerical error for the admission of overspending, and got his seat back that same month.
In a decision released in June, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that his reinstatement had been based on an improper reading of the law by a lower court. He was again removed from office, though he secured a stay of that ruling to allow him to pursue his fight to the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, the country’s top court declined to hear his appeal, leaving him no way to continue fighting.
“By virtue of today’s decision by the court, Mr. Karygiannis is no longer a city councillor for Ward 22,” the City of Toronto said in a statement. “A report will go to city council on September 30 with the option for council to either appoint or direct a by-election to fill the seat.”
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