Jim Karygiannis reinstated again as Toronto councillor amid ongoing legal appeal

Click to play video: 'Toronto city councillors ‘shocked’ over Karygiannis’ ousting' Toronto city councillors ‘shocked’ over Karygiannis’ ousting
WATCH ABOVE: City councillors expressed shock the day after Jim Karygiannis’ removal from office after he allegedly violated finance campaign rules. Kamil Karamali reports. (Nov. 7) – Nov 7, 2019

Ontario’s Court of Appeal has ruled that Jim Karygiannis should be reinstated as a Toronto councillor pending a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.

According to a statement issued by the City of Toronto Wednesday afternoon, the decision was made after Karygiannis asked the court to consider staying a June court decision removing him from office until the Supreme Court determines if it wants to hear his appeal.

“By virtue of today’s decision, Mr. Karygiannis can immediately resume his place on city council as councillor for Ward 22,” the statement said.

Read more: Former Toronto councillor goes to Supreme Court to try to reclaim council seat

Karygiannis was first removed from his position in November over an issue with his 2018 election expense filing. Toronto City Clerk Ulli Watkiss said he could no longer continue in his role based on a supplementary financial statement filed after the 2018 municipal election. Among the issues was thousands of dollars spent on a post-election party at Santorini Grill.

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“The Act allows candidates to spend a maximum amount of money in an election. For Ward 22 in 2018, that total was $61,207.95, with a maximum of 10 per cent – or $6,120.80 – to be spent for ‘parties and other expressions of appreciation’ after voting day,” a previous statement said.

“Mr. Karygiannis filed expenses under ‘parties and other expressions of appreciation’ shows that he spent $32,083.50, which on its face exceeds the expense limit by $25,962.70.”

Read more: Toronto Coun. Jim Karygiannis removed from office again after Appeal Court decision

City staff at the time said the clerk doesn’t have any discretion about the decision based on provincial law. Karygiannis previously said the filing was a clerical error.

That decision was later overturned in a Superior Court ruling in which the judge said he found “that Mr. Karygiannis acted in good faith with respect to the filing of the financial statements.”

Adam Chaleff, who calls himself a “fair elections advocate,” subsequently filed an appeal to that decision, saying it “would signal to every local politician in the province that they can overspend with impunity on their election campaigns because they can run to court afterwards to keep their office.”

Read more: Court rules ousted Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis can return to office

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In a June Appeal Court ruling overturning the lower court’s decision, it said while the penalty under the Municipal Elections Act “may be harsh in some cases … forfeiture is clearly what the legislators intended.”

“Granting relief from forfeiture would amount to rewriting or repealing the statute, revoking the very consequence for breach of the statute that the legislature prescribed,” the decision read.

Shortly after that decision, Karygiannis appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and filed an application to stay the latest decision.

Read more: Toronto Coun. Jim Karygiannis removed from office over 2018 election expenses

In a brief statement released Wednesday afternoon, he thanked his family, staff and constituents for their support.

“I look forward to returning to work as the Councillor for Ward 22 and to, once again, serving my constituents,” Karygiannis said.

It’s unclear when the Supreme Court will make a decision on whether or not to hear his appeal.

— With files from Ryan Rocca


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