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Judge in Rob Ford ruling familiar with contentious cases

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks at city hall on Nov. 26, 2012. Mr. Ford was ordered removed from office on Monday after a judge found him guilty of breaking conflict-of-interest laws.


The Ontario Superior Court judge who ordered Toronto Mayor Rob Ford removed from office is no stranger to cases in which municipal officials face a premature end to their terms.

Sixteen years ago, when he was in private practice, Mr. Justice Charles Hackland represented former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar in a successful lawsuit against the government of premier Mike Harris after she was dismissed as chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police Services Board.

Judge Hackland usually sits in Ottawa, and it was because he is an outsider that he was chosen to rule on whether Mr. Ford breached provincial conflict-of-interest rules.

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"A judge who know[s] none of the parties and had no connection with Toronto would be fairest," said Clayton Ruby, the lawyer for the plaintiff, Paul Magder.

Because he works in Ottawa, Mr. Hackland has handled contentious political files.

He was the judge in the $3.5-million libel suit Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched against the federal Liberals over allegations that independent MP Chuck Cadman was bribed for his support in a non-confidence vote (Mr. Harper eventually dropped the litigation).

Earlier this year, Judge Hackland tossed out former Tory cabinet minister Helena Guergis's lawsuit contesting her dismissal by Mr. Harper. The judge said that the court would not rule on the Prime Minister's power to appoint cabinet members.

Known to acquaintances as "Chuck," Judge Hackland graduated from the University of Ottawa's law school in 1975, in the same class as former supreme court justice Louise Charron and high-profile defence attorney Michael Edelson.

After getting a degree at Oxford University, he practised civil and administrative litigation in Ottawa, mainly for the firm now known as Gowlings.

Judge Hackland was named to the bench in October, 2003, by justice minister Martin Cauchon.

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In 2008, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson picked Judge Hackland to be senior regional judge, East Region.

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