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

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

Click on image to view a larger version.

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?

Click on image to view a larger version.


  • Transity Cyclist

    Oooooh, pretty colours!!!

    • Anonymous

      Roll the dice… do not pass GO!

  • Kevin Hill

    “In conflict, but inadvertently so or due to an error in judgment” could be used to describe Rob Ford’s entire political career.

    • daleth

      Yeah, I’m betting it ends up being one of those two. Which basically means the Ford will once again walk by virtue of stupidity.

  • Roger Beharry Lall

    I’m confused by “In conflict, but for an insignificant amount of money”… conflict is conflict. The amount argument seems a slippery slope (3k relative to TO budget is small… but relative to an agencies budget.. or a councilors salary… not so trivial).

    • John Duncan

      Especially since the mayor himself obviously didn’t find it to be an insignificant amount (i.e. then he would have just paid it himself).

      • Anonymous

        The mayor is a bit of contradiction on money matters. On the one hand, he finds 5 cents for a plastic bag to be a significant, onerous amount. On the other hand, gave no second thought to almost costing the city $65 million in Transit City cancellation fees.

        • Me Ted

          What he should have done was shut down the island airport bridge to the tune of billions instead. Oh wait…

  • Anonymous

    On Tuesday there will be Grey Cup victory parade and that will be a wonderful thing. If Rob Ford gets booted from office there will be a bigger victory parade.

  • Anonymous

    Just curious: if Ford gets removed, can council reappoint him? Or do they have to reappoint someone else?

    • Anonymous

      I believe they can only appoint someone who is on council, ruling him out. There are lots of other turkeys on council to choose among.

      • Anonymous

        Nope. Council has a non-binding policy to that effect, but they are actually able to choose anyone who qualifies as a muncipal elector: i.e. 18+, Canadian citizen, Toronto resident.

        • Anonymous

          And the the chances of this council reaching outside are vanishingly small.

    • Justice for Bishop

      Yes… if he is not barred form holding office

  • Anonymous

    Rob Ford has been removed from office, according to G+M’s Kelly Grant tweet…

  • Anonymous

    Rob Ford has been removed from office, according to G+M’s Kelly Grant tweet…

  • Anonymous

    Time to party!

  • Anonymous

    Sandra Bussin’s testimony cited in judgment. Heheheh.


    Toronto wins the Grey Cup and the “train wreck” of a mayor Rob Ford is removed from office. What a GREAT week! YAHOO…

  • Tim Fromlosangeles

    I know my comments don’t count for much? But Mayor Ford, TAKE OFF YOU HOSER!