Toronto taxpayers could end up paying some of the legal bills Rob Ford racked up during his conflict of interest case.
At a council meeting on Thursday, city solicitor Anna Kinastowski said now that the mayor's conviction has been overturned on appeal, he could apply to the city to have his court costs reimbursed.
"The legislation provides that where a member has been found by a court not to have contravened the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, the city can reimburse for legal expenses," Kinastowski said.
Kinastowski made the statement in response to questions from Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday during a council update on the conflict ruling.
Holyday said that Ford had been "hard done by... particularly financially" as a result of the case, which was brought against the mayor by Toronto resident Paul Magder and nearly resulted in Ford being kicked out of office.
But while Holyday believes that Ford should be entitled to ask for the money, he doesn't think the mayor is likely to do so, given his stated aversion to spending public funds.
"He looks after himself," Holyday said in an interview. "But the fact is, he's been wronged, seriously wronged, and [he's] out thousands of dollars."
Ford was cleared of the conflict charge on January 25, when the Ontario Divisional Court ruled that he had not broken the law when by voting against repaying $3,150 in improperly solicited donations to his football foundation. The court determined that council never had the authority to ask him to repay the funds, overturning an earlier ruling that ordered him out of office.
The judges did not assign any costs in the case, but directed Magder and Ford to submit financial filings within 30 days. As the losing party, Magder could be on the hook for much of Ford's fees, but the mayor could then apply to the city to pay for whatever amount was left over.
Council would have to approve any payment to Ford, Kinastowski said.
In a radio interview in October, Ford said that court proceedings against him were "costing me a fortune." At the time, he was facing not only conflict of interest charges but also a $6-million libel suit and an audit of his 2010 campaign finances.
A judge dismissed the libel suit in December.
In 2010, Holyday himself asked the city to cover court costs he incurred by successfully suing over council's decision to reimburse two councillors for their defence against compliance audits.
The city ended up paying some, but not all, of Holyday's costs in that case.