Group prepared to appeal to court if Commissioner rejects ruling
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, December 16, 2013
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the complaint affidavit it is filing with the City of Toronto Integrity Commissioner today requesting that in Democracy Watch’s opinion she should investigate Rob Ford’s well-publicized, and self-admitted, actions in the past year to determine if they violate the Code of Conduct for Members of Council (the “Code”).
The Integrity Commissioner recently ruled on a separate complaint that the City council filed about different actions by Rob Ford that the City, and in that ruling she said that she thinks the general standards of conduct in the Code are “aspirational” and not enforceable. Democracy Watch disagrees and is appealing to the Commissioner to uphold the standards as they are among the most important rules in the Code.
Democracy Watch is prepared to appeal the Integrity Commissioner’s ruling in court if she rejects its complaint on the same grounds.
The preamble to the Code includes four statements of principle that “underline” the Code, including that members of Council should perform their functions with “integrity”; perform their duties and arrange their private affairs “in a manner that promotes public confidence and will bear close public scrutiny”; and uphold both the letter and the spirit of all laws.
The Code does not say that the statements of principle in the preamble are not enforceable, and Democracy Watch’s opinion is that they are legally enforceable rules and that the Integrity Commissioner can investigate alleged violations of the principles and issue a ruling, including recommending the possible penalties for violations of a reprimand or a suspension of up to 90 days (the Council then votes on what penalty to impose, if any).
“Democracy Watch believes that Toronto’s Integrity Commissioner is legally allowed to rule on whether Rob Ford’s actions over the past year violate the general standards of conduct and integrity set out in the councillor’s code of conduct,” said Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch. “If the Integrity Commissioner rules that these general integrity standards are not enforceable, then the provincial government should quickly pass a law requiring all councillors across Ontario to comply with such standards, with a sliding scale of penalties depending on the significance of the violation, from short suspensions up to losing their job and pension.”
In July 2011, Rob Ford admitted to talking on his cellphone while driving which is a violation of provincial law. On November 3, 2013, I verily believe that Rob Ford admitted on his then-radio show that he had texted while driving, which is a violation of provincial law. On November 5, 2013, Rob Ford admitted publicly that he had smoked crack cocaine, which is a violation of federal law.
On November 7, 2013, a video was made public by various media outlets in which Rob Ford appears and utters threats to kill an unnamed person, and making such statements is a violation of federal law. On November 13, 2013, Rob Ford admitted at a meeting of council that he had bought illegal drugs during his term as Mayor. On November 14, 2013, Rob Ford publicly admitted to drinking alcohol and then driving, which is a violation of provincial law.
As well, Rob Ford has publicly apologized for some of his actions again and again and again. In addition, on November 5, 2013, the results of a survey by Forum Research were released and showed that 59 percent of Toronto voters wanted Rob Ford to resign. , and on November 13, 2013, the results of a survey by Ipsos-Reid were released publicly and showed that 41 percent believed Rob Ford should resign, 35 percent believed that he should take a leave of absence, while 24 percent believed that he should remain in office.
Democracy Watch’s opinion is that Rob Ford’s self-admitted violations of various laws violate the principles in the Code, and his apologies show that Rob Ford himself, and the surveys show that a majority of voters in Toronto, believe that his actions do not meet the standards established by the statements of principle that require members of council to act with “integrity” and act in ways that promote public confidence and bear close public scrutiny.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Board member of Democracy Watch
Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign