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Rob Ford's conflict of interest trial

Tomorrow...

On Wednesday, Mayor Rob Ford will be in court to explain why he participated in a council debate about whether he should return $3,150 in improperly raised donations.

The case was initiated by Toronto resident Paul Magder, whose lawyer argues Ford should have taken no role in discussing a report from the city’s integrity commissioner that concluded he had improperly used his city council status to solicit funds for his football foundation.

Commissioner Janet Leiper took the matter to council after Ford ignored six requests from her for proof that he had repaid the money, as ordered, to the donors — several lobbyists, their clients and a business.

Despite a warning from the council speaker that he might be in a position of conflict of interest, Ford made a speech and took part in the 22-12 council vote that relieved him of any obligation to return the funds.

(Routinely, councillors declare conflicts on agenda items that may affect their own or their family’s financial interests, and absent themselves from speaking or voting on the item in question.)

The stakes are high. If found to have contravened conflict of interest rules by voting on the item, Ford could be forced from office. Alternatively, he might keep his job if the court found a contravention occurred by reason of “inadvertence” or error in judgment.

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