Friday, February 1st Commentary
One week after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford won a legal victory in his conflict of interest case to keep his job, another legal battle could begin to unfold later today.
Allegations were made by two city activists that Ford breached the campaign spending laws in his run for Mayor in 2010.
For the last 6 months Bruce Armstrong, the managing director of Froese Forensic Partners on Unviersity Avenue has been looking at the Ford campaign books to determine a few things. First: did Ford spend over the legal limit of $1.3-million, by at least $156-hundred. Second: did Ford breach the section of the Municipal Act which only permits campaigns to borrow money from "recognized" lenders because his family holding company, Doug Ford Holdings, picked up the tab for early campaign expenses totalling about $77-thousand. The money was paid back but it was interest free money. Third: did Ford breach the act by corporate donations. In this regard, the allegation is he accepted indirect corporate donations from the Ford family printing company which provided him with low-cost campaign office space.
This forensic audit is required to spell out every violation, if there are any. The report would then go to the city of Toronto's compliance audit committee of experts and that committee would decide whether to hire a special prosecutor to pursue the matter in court, but there would be no criminal charges, just violations of the Municipal Elections Act again, if any are found.
One of the possible penalities under that act is removal from office but several experts say the likelyhood of such a harsh penalty is very remote.
For Rob Ford's critics it seems the best that can be hoped for is this becomes another teachable moment for the mayor, that he can't just run around half-cocked and do whatever he wants regardless of the law.
What would you think of the idea of loosening up the citizenship requirement for voting in the next municipal election in Toronto?
The city's Community Development and Recreation Committee has instructed city staff to examine ways to allow permanent residents who are not Canadian citizens to vote as early as the 2014 election. The staff report is supposed to be back in May.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong wants the rules kept as they are, only Canadian citizens should vote.
But others such as Ana Bailao feel that if you pay property taxes you should be allowed to vote municipally. Homeowners don't need to be Canadian citizens so they're paying property taxes.
I tend to side with the Bailao faction because it would not be difficult to establish residency and it takes so long for people to get citizenship, why should they be denied the right to decide how their tax dollars are spent?