Here’s another news story I just had to comment on! If you had the chance to read my About Page, you’ll know I’m a Torontonian, and proud of it. It shaped me into the person I am, and I continue to keep tabs on what’s happening in my fair city. When Rob Ford became the mayor of Toronto in 2010, I wanted to give him a chance as mayor because it’s a tough city to run, and if the people elected him in, then he should try to run the city and try to make it better for its people. I felt this way until, I think, he started becoming a polarizing figure for Torontonians, losing their faith in his abilities to lead the city in the best interest of its people. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was his decision to vote on a council issue he had a personal interest in, gaining money for it, then claiming he was unaware he was breaking the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. What upsets me more is that he went to an appellate court to rule on a decision where Justice Charles Hackland found him guilty of violating this rule he swore to uphold when he became mayor to overturn this ruling this morning, and he will get retain his position as Toronto’s mayor.
For lack of a better, or more profane term, I’m pissed off about it! Mayor Ford broke a rule. Sure, he testified, stating that he was unaware he could participate in the council’s ruling of this decision, where his football team received over $3,100 because he did not read this rule in the councilor’s handbook when he became mayor. Claiming ignorance to skip out of a mistake, especially as mayor, is pretty low. What kind of example is this setting to other public figures, or to the kids he is helping with his charity? I can’t say whether this was the best defense he could come up with to explain why he did what he did, but this would make me feel, if I were still living in the city of Toronto, that my mayor thinks rules don’t apply to him, whether he is aware of the rules or laws which he is bound to uphold.
Should he actually loose his job over what he did, that’s a gray area for me. Yes, he did violate the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, but the punishment for what he did was not applied either because he did not directly receive the funds he solicited from 11 lobbyist groups and one corporation. It went to the Toronto Community Foundation, which runs his charitable work for him. Sure, he did not get the money himself, but he solicited the money from these groups, then went to Toronto City Council to ask to be excused from punishment for his actions and then voted in favour of being let off the hook. Saying he was not aware of the aforementioned Act he violated is not acceptable, especially for the mayor of the city of Toronto.
An example should be made in this instance, but it should follow what is laid out as punishment in the Act. These punishments are that the offender should be reprimanded or that the money must be returned to the appropriate party or parties. Since he did not directly receive the funds, the panel found that Rob Ford is exempt from punishment. No, no, Readers! In my eyes, if your foundation receives money, it is you getting that money. Some form of punishment should befall Rob Ford in this instance.
I know, he’s not a monster. The money went to a foundation which runs a charity football league for kids who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to play. You usually don’t get to hear about what mayors do outside of their job as head of a city, and it’s good to know he takes time out and does some good. Do the kids deserve receiving the money? Yes, but not in the manner it was obtained.
Clayton Ruby, the lawyer who brought this case against the mayor, is now trying to appeal the decision the appellate panel made today to the Supreme Court of Canada. I’m not sure if they will find any differently than the appellate court just has. And what was learned by Rob Ford from this situation? Nothing really. He said he learned he had a lot of public support. This just set off alarm bells for me. So what if he has become humbled by this situation. That’s crap! He didn’t say he wouldn’t do something like this again, nor has he apologized for doing something so simple as read (or have an aid read and inform him) of what he can and cannot do as mayor and a member of Toronto City Council. Today’s ruling just sets a worrisome precedence for other mayor, letting them know that rules and laws can be broken. You just have to know the right loopholes to access.
As usual, I have put links below so you can read some of the reports on this story and make your own judgement call on this case.
Until my next post, Readers!