Friday, February 1, 2013

Rob Ford campaign audit to be released today

The Toronto Star:

A forensic audit of his campaign financial practices will be released imminently, auditor Bruce Armstrong said on Thursday — possibly Friday, possibly early next week. Armstrong had said earlier that it would be released by the end of January. 

“The anticipation is that it’ll be out this week,” Armstrong said. “It’s going to be read by a lot of people; we want to make sure that — haste makes waste.”

If Armstrong’s audit identifies “apparent contraventions” of the Municipal Elections Act, the city’s three-person compliance audit committee will decide whether to hire a special prosecutor to consider non-criminal charges against Ford. The prosecutor would likely have the power to decide which alleged breaches to pursue and which to discard.

“While a compliance auditor might perceive there to be ‘apparent contraventions,’ which is the language in the Municipal Elections Act, that doesn’t mean there automatically has been an offence beyond a reasonable doubt that can be proved in court. And that’s the gap that has to be bridged,” said Tim Wilkin, a Kingston-based lawyer who served as a special prosecutor in Vaughan, Ottawa, and Hamilton.

Removal from office is one of the possible penalties, but no Ontario politician has ever been punished severely for breaking elections law. 

Regardless of the eventual outcome, election-related charges would cast another shadow over Ford’s tumultuous mayoralty. Any court case could well continue into the 2014 campaign; Wilkin said it can take four to six months just for the special prosecutor to make a decision on laying charges.

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