No one can say that this was a “Leftie” conspiracy against Rob Ford — the judge who passed the judgment was in favour of the Harper government in the Guergis case.
And despite the blatantly false, grossly uninformed, and incessantly misleading bleating of ardent Ford supporters like CP24′s Stephen Ledrew (I’m sure Jerry Agar won’t be far behind), Hackland’s judgement was not a mere “technicality” (“highly unlikely” to go anywhere, according to Ledrew, mere moments before the verdict was delivered), or based on “Ford helping the kids”.
And despite CP24′s best attempt to spin the verdict by showing the “range of responses” from Twitter, which included one outraged respondent and a question about how long Ford has to appeal, my own experience both online and off (I’m sitting in a downtown coffee shop as I write this), shows an overwhelming amount of joy and a feeling that justice has finally been done. Not a “he got his” feeling, but a “law prevailed as we knew it must” feeling — something I’m sure, based on all the feedback I’ve seen, Ford supporters just can’t wrap their heads around. And there aren’t many of them around anymore (this is why I’ve mused more than once about the real conspiracy, the one that’s propping Ford up).
I can honestly say that I knew in my heart of hearts that this had to be the verdict. As I’ve stated in numerous previous posts, the judge’s job is to make sure that the law is followed, and in this case the law was very clear. Ultimately, as Ruby, the lawyer who brought the case against Ford, said in a televised conference shortly after the verdict was released, Rob Ford did this to Rob Ford. That was so plainly and painfully obvious to anyone who read the details of the case that any judgment to the contrary would’ve been a shock, not the other way around. Not that it’s stopping Ledrew and the CP24 team from trying to push this lie into the “range of responses” and trying their damnedest to steer the conversation in this direction.
But if you still don’t believe how un-shocked I am at this verdict, just scroll back through a few past Ford conflict of interest posts on TCL and compare the language I used to that used by the judge himself (be sure to read the whole judgement while you’re at it):
Hackland: “In view of the respondent’s leadership role in ensuring integrity in municipal government, it is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the Integrity Commissioner and the Code of Conduct. In my opinion, the respondent’s actions were characterized by ignorance of the law and a lack of diligence in securing professional advice, amounting to wilful blindness. As such, I find his actions are incompatible with an error in judgment.”
TCL: “The real problem with Ford, aside from believing he can pick and choose which laws to follow, is that he’s personally offensive, and has been from day one. He shows no remorse for any of his actions, and if he stays in office there’s no reason to believe that things will get anything but worse. Much worse.”
Hackland: “For the reasons set out above, I have concluded that the respondent contravened s. 5 of the MCIA when he spoke and voted on a matter in which he had a pecuniary interest at the meeting of Toronto City Council on February 7, 2012, and that his actions were not done by reason of inadvertence or a good faith error in judgment.”
TCL: “This can easily be seen as vote buying — you donate to Rob’s foundation, he gets you tax receipts and special favours when he gets into the Mayor’s seat. Even if that never happens (though with Ford, it most likely would), the chance of it happening is eliminated by having things like the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (in fact, that’s the sole reason for this law to exist in the first place!) Maybe Robbie didn’t know that it could be perceived this way? Not a fucking chance.”
Hackland: “In assessing errors in judgment, just as it may be relevant to consider the position of a novice elected councillor with limited experience with conflict of interest issues, it is also appropriate to consider the responsibilities of the respondent as a long-serving councillor and Mayor. In my opinion, a high standard must be expected from an elected official in a position of leadership and responsibility. Toronto’s current Code of Conduct is modelled on the recommendations of The Honourable Denise Bellamy, who conducted the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry, in 2005, when the respondent was a member of City Council.
TCL: “Thing is, Ford had gotten the book of rules just like every other Councillor — of which, of course, he has no memory but does have a clear recollection of what he ate for breakfast that morning (that’s the actual reply) — sat in and voted on meetings with reports by the Integrity Commissioner where conflicts of interest were clearly spelled out, had access to Ana Kinastowski who heads City Hall’s legal department, and could also use a part of his office budget for independent legal advice if he wants it. And don’t forget how many times Ford had recused himself in the past when the conflicts of interest were laughably far removed from him. And just in case there was any doubt, Ford is reminded how Sandra Bussin had mentioned that Ford might be in a conflict of interest prior to the meeting, and that according to the same document he kinda remembers signing, the final responsibility for such things lies with him.”
I could go on but it’s kind of beating a dead horse. And I have to be upfront and say that I’m definitely not the only person to point out these “discrepancies” in Ford’s thinking and statements.
But no matter what I think or say, it’s very satisfying at the end of all of this to know that common sense, as reflected in law, has prevailed. On occasion, the law actually works!
Ford is now busily figuring out how to spend the next two weeks before he has to give up his seat. Apparently there’s an appeal in the works and we can be pretty sure the Supreme Court is going to be hearing of this outrage. In the meantime, though, City Council is thinking about if they should appoint an interim mayor or if there should be a by-election. Ford won’t be barred from this so presumably he could run (and win), once again. Considering the amount of bad blood he’s racked up so far though, even if he throws his name into the ring, I can’t see him winning again. Sorry, Ledrew, but you’re wrong on that one too.