First council meeting after Ford found guilty

By Joanne Kaileh, Centennial Journalism

In a room filled with 44 councillors, one mayor and many conflicting views, the future of Rob Ford as mayor was the question on everyone’s mind.

Toronto city council met Tuesday at city hall for the first meeting since  Ford was ordered to vacate his seat after 14 days. Earlier that week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland found Ford guilty of breaching the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. While the council’s main agenda was the 2013 budget, questions from councillors over what is to come next as a result of the ruling took precedence. City of Toronto solicitor, Anna Kinastowski, spoke to council and clarified the legal situation after Hackland’s ruling.

“The mayor is the mayor. It is business as usual,” Kinastowski told councillors.

For the moment Ford is the mayor, but it is not known for how long. It is said Ford wants both to appeal the judge’s decision and ask for a stay in Divisional Court. According to Kinastowski, if Ford is granted the stay it means he will be entitled to continue his duties longer.

“If that stay is granted, Mr. Ford remains as mayor of the city until such time as the Divisional Court releases its decision and at that point we have to assess what that decision says and to take action from there,” Kinastowski said.

While many councillors said they believe Ford has the right to appeal, not all believe he should stay in position in the meantime. Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7-York West), who recently resigned from the executive committee, thinks Ford should step down.

“I think he has every right to appeal and he should…There’s nothing wrong with the mayor stepping aside and giving the chair to somebody else — staying as mayor, but stepping aside not acting in his role and giving it to the deputy mayor for the time being — that’s what I’d like to see,” Mammoliti said at a scrum in city hall’s public gallery.

Councillor Maria Augimeri (Ward 9-York Centre) does not feel Ford should necessarily step down or be criticized.

“I’m not happy with the role the councillors took. I don’t believe that he should be an object of an attack,” Augimeri told reporters.

If Ford is not granted an appeal, council will have 60 days to either appoint someone to take his place or have a byelection. There are conflicting views over whether there should be a byelection or an appointment.

“I don’t want a byelection. I’d rather a caretaker take the position and I’d like council to make that decision,” Mammoliti said.

According to Mammoliti, a close Ford ally, an appointment would prevent taxpayers from paying for a byelection.

“My objective is not to cost the taxpayers $7 million in a byelection,” Mammoliti said.

Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20-Trinity-Spadina) strongly believes that a byelection is the right choice.

“I don’t think democracy is something you connect to a cost-benefit analysis. It’s that kind of thinking about budgets and about city services, quite frankly, that has led to a decline in quality of life in this city,” Vaughan told reporters.

For now the mayor and councillors will resume their duties until further decisions are made.

Ford did not comment on the situation.