TORONTO, Ont. – Mayor Rob Ford is vowing to fight “tooth and nail” against a ruling that kicked him from office for violating conflict of interest rules Monday.
Ford blamed the left wing for the ruling that booted him from office.
“The left wing wants me out of here and they’ll do anything in their power to [do that],” he said.
“I’m going to fight tooth and nail to hold onto my job.”
The mayor said if there is a byelection, his name would be first on the ballot.
The conflict complaint was launched by Toronto resident Paul Magder, who argued the mayor violated the rules when he took part in a council vote over repayment of $3,150 in donations he had solicited for his private football foundation using city letterhead.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland blasted Ford for “wilful blindness,” saying that it could not be excused as an error of judgement in good faith.
“It is difficult to accept an error-in-judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the integrity commissioner and the ‘code of conduct,'” Hackland said in his ruling.
“I declare the seat of the respondent Robert Ford on Toronto city council vacant.”
Ford could have been barred from running again for seven years. Instead, Hackland disqualified him for the “current term.”
It was not clear whether that meant Ford’s term was over with his removal from office, which would allow him to run in a potential byelection.
Lawyer John Mascarin, a municipal law expert not involved in the case said he believed Hackland meant to bar Ford from running for office until the current council term is over in 2014.
The judge put his declaration on hold for 14 days to give the city time to address the situation.
Read the decision below:
Read a re-cap of coverage by 680News and CityNews reporters on the decision and reaction below:
During a scrum with reporters, Ford said he will appeal the ruling, and that he plans to run for re-election. Listen here
YOUR REACTION: Below is a selection of your reaction on Twitter.
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Ford has 30 days to appeal to Divisional Court. If he does not get the order for his removal from office put on hold, council will either move a $7-million byelection or select a councillor to act as mayor until the end of the term.
“We keep our democracy healthy by ensuring that no one is above the rules,” lawyer Clayton Ruby, who represented Magder, said.
“Many Torontonians agree with that principle. I feel strongly about it and as the judgement shows, so do the courts.”
“Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford,” he said.
In 2010, Ford used his staff to help send out requests for donation for his football fund and mail them out to donors, who had lobbied the city government.
Ford has argued that he did not know he was in conflict of interest.
He added that the envelopes and stationery had been paid with his personal account.
But the city’s integrity commissioner, Janet Leiper, found Ford’s actions broke the conduct code for councillors, and recommended Ford pay back $3,150 to the donors, a demand he reportedly ignored.
Council adopted the commissioner’s findings and sanction, in a resolution Ford voted against, but he never made the repayments, despite six reminders from the commissioner.