Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The problem with Rob Ford's defence

Rob Ford says he didn't benefit from the conflict of interest that got him kicked out of office. He said last week, "I had nothing to gain and the city had nothing to lose". Later, a campaign ad was released on YouTube that pushed this message.

The problem is it's not true. Ford voted on a motion that would have made him reimburse $3,150 that he had improperly solicited. He had $3,150 to gain.

We in Waterloo know a lot about conflict of interest. Many councillors and mayors at the regional and municipal levels were unable to vote on the LRT because of possible conflicts of interest. Some, such as a councillor who sat out the vote because he works at the University of Waterloo, seem to have gone too far. Some, such as the regional chair whose kids own property on the route and who was active on the file until the final vote, seem to have not gone far enough. But an extraordinary amount of thought and scrutiny went into the decisions. Many councillors got advice from multiple lawyers before deciding. The local papers printed numerous articles on the topic.

You'd think that if a Waterloo city councillor making roughtly $25,000 a year could take conflict of interest seriously, the mayor of Toronto could.

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