What happens if Mayor Rob Ford is removed from office?
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Deputy Mayor Holyday favours a $7 million by-election to choose a new mayor if a judge turfs Rob Ford from office and council is set to appoint a non-conservative as his replacement.
Holyday also told reporters Friday that, while he strongly supports the mayor and his penny-pinching agenda, Ford must stop opening himself up to political attacks because “it can’t go on this way.”
The veteran councillor and former Etobicoke mayor said he is very confident that, even if Justice Charles Hackland finds Ford guilty of conflict of interest in a ruling to be released Monday at 10 a.m., the judge will not remove him from office.
But if Ford is turfed, Holyday said it is his expectation that he would assume the mayor’s duties until council decides what to do next. That could be as early as Tuesday, when council has a regularly scheduled meeting.
There is no modern precedent for a judge removing a Toronto mayor from office. Midway through Ford’s four-year term, it appears council would have the discretion to either appoint one of their own as a caretaker mayor or trigger a city-wide mayoral by-election.
City elections officials say any city-wide vote costs $7 million to hold.
Holyday said there is a “distinct possibility” opponents of the administration’s drive to slash spending and outsource city jobs would try to appoint a caretaker mayor who would sabotage the fiscally conservative agenda that got Ford elected in 2010.
“I’m not willing to support someone who’s going to change the agenda, and if that … appeared to be the option that was going to succeed, I’d want to have an election,” Holyday said.
“I know that’s a costly matter, but I think the public has spoken and I think the public are quite in agreement with the agenda that Rob Ford has put forward.”
Ford is in hot water for speaking and voting on an item at a February council meeting that absolved him of the need to repay $3,150 to lobbyists from whom he improperly solicited donations for his private football foundation.
Lawyer Clayton Ruby argued in court that Ford broke the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Ford’s lawyer vehemently denied that’s the case. If the judge finds Ford guilty, he has three options: levy no punishment; remove him from office; or remove him from office and ban him from seeking re-election for up to seven years.
Holyday expressed frustration with the mayor for his “unorthodox” style that opens the door for political enemies to attack him.
“All this aggravation and cost and inconvenience only could come about because (Ford) stayed in there and voted on the matter, rightly or wrongly,” Holyday said, adding he advises Ford to “quit leading with your chin.”
“I just wish he would do things in a more usual manner that wouldn’t open the door for so much criticism and for people to attack him,” Holyday said, noting as an example that he has unsuccessfully urged Ford to get a driver.
“I hope he has learned that you can’t open yourself up to these situations, because it’s just too much of a drain on you personally, it’s a drain on you financially, it’s a drain on your family — and I suggest it’s a drain on council.
“It can’t go on this way.”