The ruling has come down and Toronto will have a new mayor in a few weeks. Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland issued his verdict that found Rob Ford guilty of breaching the municipal conflict of interest law, and has ordered him removed from office within 14 days. The ruling is the first of its kind for a mayor of a city as large as Toronto, and Ford has suggested he will appeal the verdict. However, regardless of whether Ford succeeds in overruling the verdict, the decision casts a shadow over his credibility, which could be damaging for casino operators who have relied on Ford as their staunchest ally for a casino in Toronto.
The municipal conflict of interest law strictly enforces that members of city councils are unable to legally speak or vote on issues that they are financially invested in. The case centered on Ford’s participation in a council meeting, which debated whether he should be forced to pay back money he illegally obtained for his football teams using his position as a councilor. Ford spoke at the meeting then voted against having to pay back the money, which Judge Hackland ruled was in clear violation of the conflict of interest law.
The implications of Ford’s removal from office will affect many industries in Toronto, not least of which is the proposed OLG casino. Ford has vocally expressed his support for the casino proposal, stating on his radio show at the beginning of November that the investment would be good for Toronto.
“If it’s going to bring in $200-million a year, absolutely I’m voting for it.”
Casino operators have been utilizing Ford’s support for the casino to lobby other councilors to vote in favour of the plans. However, Ford’s removal from office for ethical and legal violations casts a shadow over how the casino, which is still considered morally questionable by several groups in Toronto, can legitimately gather support without invoking the disgraced ex-mayor’s position.
The OLG has given Toronto city council until early 2013 to make a decision on whether it wants a casino. How Ford’s removal from office will affect future plans for the casino is yet to be seen but the questions inevitably will begin rolling in.
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