TORONTO—Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will appeal a court decision to throw him out of office but offered a contrite apology for his actions.
A court ruled Monday that Ford had violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and had to vacate his seat.
A lawyer for the city has advised the ruling bars Ford from running in a by-election to fill his spot and speculation is growing as to who might run. NDP MP Olivia Chow, widow of deceased NDP Leader Jack Layton, hasn’t ruled out running.
“This entire matter began because I love to help kids play football,” Ford told reporters Tuesday.
“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.”
In a prepared statement, Ford said he respected the court’s decision but wanted to appeal it so he could continue his work as mayor.
When questioned at Ottawa Tuesday about whether she would consider running for the Mayor, Chow remained coy but said it hinges on what happens with Ford’s appeal.
“I don’t speculate what the courts would do. As soon as the court made a decision and city council deliberate what options is in front of them, then I’ll consider what role I might play,” she said.
“I hope the matter gets resolved quickly because it’s important that Toronto get back to work to build a city that’s prosperous and caring,” Chow added.
Ford lost his seat for speaking and voting in a council meeting last February that was debating whether he should repay $3,150 in donations to his private football charity that were improperly solicited from lobbyists.
“I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain and the city had nothing to lose,” Ford said Tuesday.
Justice Charles Hackland wrote in his ruling that Ford “has failed in his burden to show that his contraventions of the MCIA were the result of a good faith error in judgment.”
While the decision won’t come into effect for over a week, word at City Hall is that Ford’s deputy mayor, Doug Holyday, will oversee operations.
Magder’s attorney, Clayton Ruby, said in September that Ford should have known that his actions were breaching the Conflict of Interest Act. In February, the city’s integrity commissioner asked Ford to return the donations he solicited for his charity to the lobbyists who made them. Ford said they didn’t want the money back.
“I’ve never had a problem with conflict of interest before,” Ford said at the two-day hearing in September.
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