TORONTO – The conflict of interest case that once threatened to remove Mayor Rob Ford from office is behind him as the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday that it will not hear an appeal.
The appeal, initiated by Clayton Ruby on behalf of Paul Magder, sought to restore the original ruling, which found Ford has contravened the city’s municipal code of conduct.
That ruling was later overturned by an Ontario Court of Appeal panel. The Supreme Court did not give a reason for refusing to hear the appeal.
Speaking at a short press conference on Thursday, the mayor said he respects the court’s decision.
“I’m so happy this is all over,” Ford said. “I’ve been vindicated and we can move on.”
Ford took the opportunity to lash out at a “very small group” of people driven, he said, by a political agenda.
“They couldn’t beat me at the polls, so they tried everything they could to try and stop me from moving ahead with my agenda,” he said.
Ford accused the group of creating months of instability and turmoil over “raising money to help underprivileged kids to play football.”
The allegations stem from a February 2010 ruling by the city’s integrity commissioner that Ford – then a councillor – had abused his position by using city letterhead and resources to distribute fundraising letters for his private football foundation.
At the time, city council voted to order Ford to pay back the $3,150 donated by lobbyists for his football foundation.
Two years later Ford spoke and voted in favour of a successful motion to reverse council’s earlier decision. That, his opponents claimed, violated municipal conflict of interest rules.
Justice Charles Hackland agreed: On November 26 he ruled that Ford had a personal financial interest in the motion and contravened the municipal code when he voted to overturn the decision.
“I’m just glad this is finally over,” the mayor repeated before abruptly ending his press conference and taking no questions.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz told a group of reporters at city hall Thursday that it’s “time to move on.”
And Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday agreed that people should move past the conflict of interest case, adding that he is “glad this is finally over.”
Holyday also echoed the mayor’s comments saying Ford’s opponents tried to take the case to the Supreme Court for no other reason but to “aggravate” the mayor.
“I think they knew that they didn’t have much of a chance to get before the Supreme Court, and they just did it to aggravate the mayor. And I think that’s pretty sad.”
With files from The Canadian Press