TORONTO, Ont. – Final submissions are now over in the conflict-of-interest court hearing that could remove Mayor Rob Ford from office.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge stated that he hopes to “have a decision in a timely way.”
Ford is accused of not declaring a conflict of interest when he gave a speech and participated in a council vote last February.
On Wednesday, Ford repeatedly denied any wrongdoing during day one of his testimony.
He admitted he has never read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, saying he believes there is only a conflict if there is a financial gain for the city or himself.
During the final submission, lawyer Clayton Ruby took direct aim at Ford’s testimony. He argued it is simply not believable that Ford swear an oath each time he was elected and have not read the act.
He says Ford shows “willful blindness” to the act and given his expertise after 12-years on council not only were his actions not in good faith, he has a ‘deliberate indifference to his ethical obligations.”
One dramatic moment came when Ruby said the mayor ‘lied under oath.’ Ford’s lawyer angrily objected telling the judge, that kind of language is “unnecessary’.
Saying he receives no money or personal gifts from his foundation, Ford told the packed University Avenue courtroom that he does not believe he had a conflict of interest when he solicited donations to the Rob Ford Football Foundation in 2010, while he was a city councillor.
He argued that he did not violate the code of conduct for councillors because there was no interest to him or the city. He added that the city solicitor did not advise him of a conflict of interest ahead of the council meeting.
During his testimony, Ford said that he hands out his City Hall business card to everyone he meets, adding that he talks about his foundation to everyone he comes across in the city.
Defending his actions, Ford told court the foundation is a phenomenal program that saves children’s lives.
During a Feb. 7 council meeting, councillors, including Ford, voted to rescind a 2010 council decision ordering the mayor to repay $3,150 in donations from lobbyists and their clients to his football foundation for at-risk high school students.
Alan Lenczner, Ford’s lawyer, said that city council did not have the ability to impose the repayment on the mayor.
Ford said he had been funding his personal foundation to provide football equipment to teenagers in underprivileged neighbourhoods out of his own pocket. But when it got “expensive,” he set up a charity to receive donations.
The mayor, who at the time was a city councillor, denied he used his post to solicit donations.
Ford said he tried to repay lobbyists but they refused the repayment.
But in his opening statements, lawyer Clayton Ruby, whose client Paul Madger filed the lawsuit, argued that Ford simply did not want to repay the donations.
Ruby emphasized that the case had nothing to do with the youth, but rather the integrity of Ford’s actions.
If found guilty, the mayor could be booted from office and banned from running for city council for seven years.
680News reporter Charlene Close and CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan live tweeted from the courtroom on Wednesday. You can read their tweets below.