TORONTO, Ont. – Mayor Rob Ford apologized to Torontonians Tuesday, one day after he was booted from office but maintained that he would fight to stay on as mayor.

Ford said he respects the court order that he leave office for violating conflict of interest rules and his appeal of the judge’s decision should not be viewed as criticism of the courts.

“Looking back, maybe, I could have expressed myself in a different way,” Ford said in a statement.

“To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize.”

Ford said the “matter” started because he “loves to help kids play football.”

The conflict complaint stemmed from when Ford solicited donations from lobbyists for his private football foundation using city letterhead.

He refused the integrity commissioner’s orders to repay the $3,150 he had solicited, and was kicked out of office Monday for conflict because he voted at a council meeting on the repayment.

“I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain, and the city had nothing to lose,” Ford said.

Ford is seeking a stay of the judge’s ruling pending an appeal to Divisional Court. The stay application will be heard Dec. 5 and the appeal Jan. 7.

Earlier Tuesday, the city’s top lawyer rejected Ford’s plan to run in a byelection, which is estimated to cost about $7 million, if one is called to select his successor.

On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland ordered Ford removed from office for violating conflict rules.

However, he put the order on hold for 14 days so the city could make arrangements.

Hackland slammed Ford for being “willfully blind” when he voted on whether to repay the $3,150. 

“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.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said Ford is noticeably quieter.

“He has been subdued,” he said.

“He’s usually quite buoyant and outgoing. I found him a little quieter and withdrawn a bit.”
 
Earlier Tuesday, Ford appeared outside city hall at an event honouring the Toronto Argonauts.

On Tuesday night, his Don Bosco Eagles lost to Newmarket’s Huron Heights Warriors 28-14 at the 31st Metro Bowl.

To hear the full announcement made by Mayor Rob Ford, click here.

Rob Ford announcement full transcript:

Good afternoon everyone.
 
I was elected two years ago by the people of Toronto to do a job. We have accomplished a lot in the past two years. But, that job isn’t finished yet.

I respect the Court’s decision that was released yesterday. My decision to appeal is not a criticism of the Court. But, I feel it is important to work through the appeal system so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do.

This entire matter began because I love to help kids play football. When this came to Council for the vote in question, I felt it was important to answer the accusations that had been made against me. I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth.

I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain. And, the City had nothing to lose.

But, I respect the court’s decision. Looking back, maybe I could have expressed myself in a different way.  To everyone who believes I should have done this differently I sincerely apologize.
            
The people elected me to bring respect for taxpayers back to City Hall, and I will keep working to do exactly that for as long as I can or, until the people elect someone else to do the job.
 
Thank you.  Unfortunately, that is all I can say at this time.