December 13, 2012
Conflict-of-interest judge made errors: Ford's lawyer
By DON PEAT, City Hall Bureau Chief
TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford’s lawyer will argue the judge made four errors of law in his ruling that tosses him out of office.
Last month, Justice Charles Hackland ruled that Ford was guilty of a conflict of interest, for speaking and voting back in February on whether council should accept an integrity commissioner report ordering him to pay back more than $3,000 in donations to his football foundation.
Ford’s lawyer Alan Lenczner’s filed his factum for the Jan. 7 appeal Wednesday. The appeal is Ford’s only chance to overturn the municipal conflict-of-interest ruling against him. If it fails, city council will have to either decide on appointing a replacement or plunging the Toronto into a mayoral byelection.
“It is respectfully submitted that (Hackland), from the outset, adopted the wrong approach,” Lenczner argues. “Rather than applying the ordinary meaning to plain language, and seeking to uphold the democratic decision of the voters who elected the mayor, by construing the MCIA (Municipal Conflict of Interest Act) “strictly” and by searching for “a reasonable interpretation which will avoid a penalty, (Hackland) did the opposite of what the law demands.
“It is respectfully submitted that each of the four main submissions regarding errors of law, when corrected, results in a reversal of the Judgment.”
Lenczner focuses on four grounds including that Hackland erred in law to find city council’s August 25, 2010, decision was “ultra vires and therefore a nullity”.
He also argues that Hackland failed to recognize and apply two distinct regulatory regimes between the council code of conduct in the City of Toronto Act and the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
Hackland erred when applying the exemption under the conflict of interest act to have regard for the amount of money involved and “instead, applied both a subjective and wrong test,” the factum states.
Finally, Lenczner argues Hackland erred in law by failing to find an error of judgement - a decision that would have spared Ford from being ousted - by “applying the wrong tests and considerations.”
A factum from lawyer Clayton Ruby, who represents the resident who filed the conflict case, has yet to be filed.