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Ford files request for stay, seeks answer from judge on whether he can run in by-election

Litigator Alan Lenczner at his offices in a file photo.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Lawyers for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford have filed their written arguments with the Divisional Court asking for a stay order that would keep him in the mayor's chair pending an appeal of the ruling that ordered him out of office over a conflict of interest.

Mr. Ford's lead lawyer, Alan Lenczner, also says he will be writing to the the Ontario Superior Court judge who ruled against Mr. Ford to clarify the question of whether the mayor can stand for election if a by-election is held.

Mr. Lenczner, who believes his client is allowed to run, said the matter should be clarified by next week, when the judge's formal order is issued. The city's lawyer has said she believes the ruling disqualifies Mr. Ford from running until 2014, when his term would otherwise end.

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In the mean time, Mr. Lenczner will be in court next week, arguing for a stay to stop the 14-day clock running on Mr. Ford's mayoralty, and for an expedited appeal process.

"The public elected Rob Ford as its mayor by more than 90,000 votes over the next candidate," the brief, eight-page written argument says. "It cannot be right that the democratic process and the democratic will should be denied for a period of another few months while the appeal is being heard and decided."

Not granting a stay would do Mr. Ford "irreparable harm," his lawyer argues in the document.

"Removing [Mr. Ford] as mayor is a loss of position, not compensable by money," the document reads. " ...After 14 days, in the absence of any stay, either a new election for mayor would be called or City Council would install someone else as mayor. If the Decision were then reversed by this Court on the appeal, irreparable harm would be occasioned."

In the document, Mr. Lenczner also outlines some of the arguments he intends to make in Mr. Ford's appeal.

Among them, Mr. Lenczner asserts that Mr. Justice Charles Hackland was wrong to conclude that the City of Toronto was within its powers to demand Mr. Ford pay back $3,150 in donations to his football charity when he was a councillor. Mr. Lenczner argues that the City of Toronto Act only allows city council to impose reprimands or suspensions of pay on members it deems to have violated its code of conduct, not other sanctions.

Mr. Lenczner also argues that the judge was wrong to conclude that Mr. Ford did not make an "error in judgment," which is one of the defences available to him under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.

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Mr. Ford "declared a conflict of interest on seven other occasions," Mr. Lenczer writes. "... A different, but reasonable interpretation of these confusing statutes constitutes an error of judgment."

Winning a stay involves a fairly low legal bar. Lawyers must demonstrate that there is a serious issue to be tried, that not granting a stay would do irreparable harm, and they must show that it would reflect a balance of convenience and the public interest.

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About the Author
Toronto City Hall Reporter

Jeff Gray is The Globe and Mail’s Toronto City Hall reporter. He has worked at The Globe since 1998. From 2010 to 2016, he was the law reporter in Report on Business, covering Bay Street law firms and white-collar crime. He won an honourable mention at the National Magazine Awards for investigative journalism in 2010. More

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