Rob Ford wins his court appeal and remains Toronto’s Mayor. Here’s what happens next
The verdict came as a bit of a shock. This morning, the Ontario Divisional Court delivered a unanimous decision supporting Rob Ford’s appeal in the conflict of interest case that could’ve permanently terminated his tenure as Toronto’s mayor. Now he gets one full weekend of rest before he grapples with his next potentially career-ending legal problem: the audit into his 201o mayoral campaign financing. Really, it’s pure Rob Ford—brutishly blundering from one near-death political experience to the next. This is the guy, after all, whose election campaign had to deal with a taped offer to get oxycontin for a provocateur and revelations of a DUI and pot possession in the space of just a few weeks. Through it all, though, Ford keeps winning. What’s next for Toronto and its teflon mayor? Here, three scenarios that could play out at city hall in the wake of Ford’s rebirth.
• Ford mellows, works with council
Wishful thinking? Maybe. Members of Ford’s inner circle say he’s been changed by his brush with the judge’s gavel and he’s going to be less prone to picking fights with the rest of council. But Ford’s history suggests the opposite. Whenever there’s been pressure to rebrand, Rob Ford steadfastly stays Rob Ford. (Remember the 15 minutes when he wasn’t overtly gay-hostile? Good times!) In other words, a more conciliatory mayor is possible—just not likely.
• Ford feels empowered, controls council (once again)
Ford’s first legal defeat in late November prompted councillors Josh Colle and Giorgio Mammoliti to spurn the mayor’s executive committee. Ruling out magical coincidences (or Mammoliti’s conspiracy theory), we can safely predict that council’s middle (“mushy,” “mighty,” whatever) isn’t going to be quite so afraid to support the big guy. Colle even voted with Ford on a number of budget items this month and told reporters he had a “gut feeling” the mayor was going to win today.
• Ford feels empowered, is rebuffed by an equally empowered council
Realistically, the start of the next election campaign is one year away. As much as Ford has been given two years of his job back, even popular mayors have a hard time with the last year of their term. Also, over the last six months a bunch of sitting councillors (and at least one MP) have started to see themselves as potentially the next Mayor of Toronto. The politicking has already started, and it’s only going to ramp up. At best, Ford is looking at less than 12 months of relative peace—whatever that means in Rob Ford’s Toronto—before he and Ford Nation have to return to battle.