Toronto mayor ousted for using political influence to raise money for high school football team

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Of all the ways to get kicked out of office, the Mayor of Toronto picked a remarkable one: He essentially resorted to an action that falls between political bribery and racketeering to help fund the high school football team for which he serves as a volunteer coach.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was ousted for driving funds to a high school football team — Reuters
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who was ousted for driving funds to a high school football team — Reuters

As reported by the Associated Press, Canadian Press and a variety of other sources, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been ousted from his office after a judge found that he had used undue influence over a city council vote aimed at repaying funds Ford had himself solicited for a local high school football program at which the mayor serves as an assistant coach.

At issue was $3,150 which Ford raised by having his staff send out letters on official City of Toronto letterhead to a wide variety of prospective donors, including a variety of lobbyists and corporations that do business with the city of Toronto.

When Toronto's city integrity commissioner insisted that Ford repay the money he raised, the Mayor refused. The city council then approved a measure calling for precisely that repayment as proposed by the integrity commissioner, but Ford again refused to pay.

Enter Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland, who issued a scathing judgment that attacked both Ford's character and actions on a case that was officially termed a "conflict of interest" violation.

Specifically, Hackland's legal decision claimed that Ford showed "willful blindness to the law,' and exhibited both a "stubborn sense of entitlement" and a "dismissive and confrontational attitude."

With that judgment came an official banishment from Ford's position, though the Mayor has filed a temporary appeal to keep him office, though the appeal is not expected to hold, despite some categorizing the legal authority to remove Ford from office as "draconian."

Regardless of whether Ford remains in office, his damage on the very teens he hoped to help is already done, according to one of the lawyer who represented those who filed suit against the Mayor on behalf of Toronto citizens.

"If you break the rules there is a price to pay. It's important for the courts to assert that nobody is above the law, Rob Ford included," Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby told the AP. "Rob Ford has said all along that he did this for the kids. He deserves credit for working with those kids, but he should have remembered that he had an obligation to those kids to set a good example for them. He should not have taken lobby money for his football team."

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