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Rob Ford’s Conflict-of-Interest Case: Possible Outcomes

Your guide to the legal decision coming shortly about the mayor.

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At 10 a.m. on Monday, Justice Charles Hackland will release his decision regarding allegations that Rob Ford has violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. With a lot of terminology and competing arguments floating around, we’ve tried to summarize the key information in one infographic that lays out the potential scenarios.

Ways the Case Could Be Dismissed

Repayment question was never properly before council: Supposedly Ford was in a conflict of interest because he took part in a city council debate about whether he should repay money that was donated to the Rob Ford Football Foundation—and members of council aren’t supposed to take part in debates when they have a personal financial stake in the outcome. However, this argument goes, city council never had the authority to order Ford to repay the money in the first place, so the subsequent debate on whether he should do so was moot.

MCOIA doesn’t apply: During the hearing Ford’s lawyer, Alan Lenczner, argued that “the matter is when there is a conflict between a piece of city business and the councillor’s own interest in that city business,” he says. The allegations in this case, however, have to do with Ford’s personal conduct. Moreover, Lenczner argued, the Act doesn’t apply to the case because Ford was voting on a matter subject to council’s own code of conduct, which derives its authority from a different piece of legislation, the City of Toronto Act.

MCOIA does apply, but there was no wrongdoing: Simply, though conflict-of-interest rules applied, Ford didn’t do anything wrong when he took part in the debate about his football foundation.


Ways Ford Could Be in a Conflict of Interest, but Not Actually in Violation of the Conflict of Interest Act
In these scenarios, Ford is found to have been in a conflict of interest, but not to have breached the legislation, because of the presence of one or more mitigating factors; these are referred to as “saving clauses.”

In conflict, but for an insignificant amount of money: The Act isn’t breached if someone has a conflict of interest, but that interest “is so remote or insignificant in its nature that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence the member.” If the amount of money in question—$3,150—is deemed by the judge to be small enough that it was unlikely to affect Ford’s attitude to the matter, then he won’t have breached the Act.

In conflict, but inadvertently so or due to an error in judgment: During the hearing Ford’s lawyers made the case that since Ford has an established record of declaring conflicts of interest during council debates, he has demonstrated that he is concerned with following the rules. If he failed to declare a conflict in this case, then, it’s not because he was trying to flout the legislation—it’s because he made a mistake, and didn’t think or realize that he was in a conflict.


See also: Why is Mayor Rob Ford in Court?


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