2012 Heroes: Jude MacDonald and Paul Magder
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2012 Heroes: Jude MacDonald and Paul Magder

Nominated for: holding Mayor Rob Ford to account.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. From December 10 to 19, we’ll unveil the nominees, grouped by category. Vote for your favourites from each batch, every single day! On December 19 and 20 the winners from each category go head-to-head in the final round of voting, and on December 21, we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

Although he spent more than a decade as a city councillor railing against spending by other councillors, Mayor Rob Ford has had a devil of a time weathering a plethora of charges, complaints, and allegations about his own use of city staff and resources. Activist Jude MacDonald and business executive Paul Magder join our 2012 Heroes list for their efforts to ensure that Mayor Ford plays by the rules, instead of repeatedly attempting end runs around them.

Paul Magder, of course, famously launched a lawsuit against the mayor, accusing him of violating the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Ford’s resulting deposition and subsequent cross-examination by Magder’s star lawyer, Clayton Ruby, revealed that Ford had never read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act or the councillor’s handbook. In a matter of hours, it became clear that the mayor doesn’t understand the concept of conflict of interest, the rules governing his office, or even, on occasion, the words that he speaks. Ontario Supreme Court Justice Charles T. Hackland ordered Ford’s removal from office. Ford immediately appealed the decision, and won a stay of the judgment.

Former rabble.ca editor Jude MacDonald filed her September 13 complaint against the mayor with City integrity commissioner Janet Leiper after the Globe and Mail published an article by Kelly Grant and Elizabeth Church noting that two employees from the mayor’s office appeared to be assisting him with administering his high school football teams, and that Ford had hired a former U of T quarterback to work as a “special assistant” in his office—and on the field. MacDonald used the Globe article as the basis for her formal complaint, in which she alleges that Ford breached council’s code of conduct by using City resources for something other than City business. As of this writing, the integrity commissioner has yet to release her findings on MacDonald’s complaint.

While Ford and his supporters have derided these actions as politically motivated nuisances launched by an “angry left,” Magder and MacDonald have been clear from the beginning about their intentions. As she dropped off her complaint at Leiper’s office, MacDonald told the Toronto Sun that she was acting in defense of “a healthy democracy, accountability, [and] transparency.”

Magder, for his part, said to the Star that he intended his lawsuit “to protect Toronto’s municipal government from politicians putting their own interests ahead of the citizens they were elected to serve.”

“For Mr. Ford to pretend he is the victim of a ‘left-wing’ political attack,” Magder added, “is to insult the justice system that is a cornerstone of Canada’s strong and enduring democracy.”

See the other nominees in the Advocates category:

The Toronto Marlies

Standing up for athletes of all orientations.
  Brian Burke

Making it his mission to combat homophobia.
  Stephanie Guthrie

Making public space—on and offline—safer for everyone.

  Cheri DiNovo

Championing trans rights.

Cast Your Ballot