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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I would say if I were Rob Ford's lawyer

As a politically motivated trial is underway, in which the stakes could be the removal of Toronto mayor Rob Ford from office, there are some arguments I hope the mayor's attorney makes.

The issue is whether Mr. Ford violated conflict of interest rules by voting about whether he should have to personally repay donations to his kids' football foundation which he used City letterhead to solicit.

The germane facts are:

  • Traditionally, conflict of interest involves matters that are of personal benefit or enrichment. Ford , unlike his Council colleagues, pays for his own stationary and does not charge it to the city. The donations that came in did not in any way benefit Ford personally, but went to benefit underprivileged youth.
  • There is usually a "hidden" component to conflict of interest. For example, if a city councilor has an interest in a development company that is seeking zoning approval, it is something that would generally not be known during a vote and it would be a conflict of interest for said councilor to participate in a decision from which they would benefit. In the case of Ford, the vote was whether he specifically should have to repay money. Since his involvement in the matter was so explicit and stated, it should have been incumbent on the City's staff or a City attorney or even a Council colleague to state that there was a conflict-of-interest. Since no such warning came, the City staff were negligent in their duty and Mr. Ford had every right to believe that he could legitimately participate in the vote
  • An essential aspect of someone being guilty of a crime is mens rea, a "guilty mind". Rob Ford's behavior in the vote, and all the pertinent elements were so out-in-the open, it prima facie demonstrates he had a clear conscience and did not realize he was transgressing any rules.

It would be a shame if a professional mouthpiece for radicals like Clayton Ruby is able to undo the democratic will of the people of Toronto. The outcome will be one to watch.


Pyrodafox said...

While I cannot speak from experience, I get the impression that the radicals in Toronto's city council is not interested in democracy, just their own self interest. The greater irony I see here is that it will be the underprivileged that suffer.

Anonymous said...

You forgot one - Ford should plead not guilty due to lack of mental capacity as demonstrated by his performance under cross examination.