Two years ago, Toronto mayor Rob Ford voted on a council motion to prevent himself from having to pay back $3,150. Ford had solicited the money in donations for his football foundation using City of Toronto stationary, and city council had ordered him to repay it on a recommendation from the city’s integrity commisioner. Ford is now the defendant in a lawsuit, filed by Toronto buissinessman Paul Madger, in which Madger alleges that Ford’s vote to excuse himself from repaying the donations violated the “Municipal Confict of Interests Act.” Now Ford will defend his position in front of a judge and assert that he didn’t do anything wrong.
Whether or not he did anything wrong is not really important. What is important is that he could lose his title of Mayor of Toronto over this matter. When he took office in December 2010, it was not because of suspicious political activity, backroom deals or football donations. Surprising as it may be to many of us, he was elected. A possible conflict of interest in no way supersedes this all-important fact. The city of Toronto elected Rob Ford as mayor, and for a judge to decide that he is no longer worthy of that title is simply undemocratic. Had he committed some form of election tampering it would be another matter, but in this instance the allegations against the mayor are irrelevant to the election.
I’m sure there are many Torontonians who are licking their chops at the prospect of ousting Ford before his term ends. Whether that is because of his often questionable decisions as mayor or his ridiculous weight-loss fiasco, I don’t disagree. But I didn’t vote in the municipal election and judging by the fact that Ford won, neither did many of his detractors. Those who voted should not have their engagement in democracy overruled by a judge.
More importantly, if Rob Ford is tossed from City Hall his supporters will cry foul, saying that Ford’s opponents had whined him out of office. This would make them more likely to vote for Ford again should he choose to run in the next election.
So let’s relax. Let’s allow Ford finish his term in office and continue to make blunders as he has in this conflict of interest affair. Maybe then, come the next election, his former supporters will know better. Let them finally arrive at the same conclusion many of us had already reached, when Ford substituted policy making for a weight-loss competition against his brother.