The final battle lines have been drawn in Rob Ford's conflict of interest case.
On Monday Paul Magder, the man who brought the case against the mayor, submitted his arguments to the Ontario divisional court that will hear Ford's appeal next month.
The 44-page factum is Magder's side of the January 7 hearing that will decide Ford's political fate. It outlines the argument Magder's lawyer, Clayton Ruby, will use to try to convince a panel of three judges to uphold the November 26 ruling that ordered the mayor removed from office.
That bombshell judgment by Justice Charles Hackland found Ford breached the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act in February when he voted against having to repay donations to his football foundation he improperly solicited from City Hall lobbyists. The mayor is appealing the decision after winning a stay of the ruling earlier this month.
In the factum, Ruby claims that Ford's participation in the vote was a "wanton" and "reckless" violation of conflict rules, and Hackland was right to boot him.
While Ford's lawyer, Alan Lenczner, argued in his own factum that the mayor didn't realize he was in a conflict and made a good faith "error in judgment" that should absolve him of penalty, Ruby counters that "ignorance of the law by a person who commits an offence is not an excuse for committing that offence."
If the judges let Ford off the hook "it would represent the first time that the error of judgment defence based on pure mistake of law was accepted," Ruby writes.
Ruby also seeks to counter Lenczner's arguments that council had no authority to order Ford to repay the donations - a position that Ruby charges is based on a narrow and outdated reading of the law.
Even if the judges find that council lacked the proper authority, Ford's participation in the vote was still illegal because he had a clear financial interest in its outcome, Ruby alleges.
The factum asks the judges to reject Lenczner's assertion that $3,150 is too small a sum to present a financial interest to Ford, on the basis that Ford himself said he resented being asked to return the money.
"It was unnecessary for the Court to determine whether the sum of $3,150 could reasonably be viewed as likely to influence the Appellant because the Appellant himself conceded that it did: the reason he spoke to the matter was because he so strongly objected to paying the $3,150."
Ruby urges the judges to take into account Ford's "pattern of misconduct" prior to the disputed February council meeting.
Since being elected to council in 2000, Ford has violated council's code of conduct several times, and beginning in 2010 he repeatedly failed to respond to requests from the integrity commissioner that he repay the $3,150 in donations he solicited before becoming mayor.
Under cross-examination at the original trial in September, the mayor testified he had never read the council handbook on conflict rules and had no system in place for his office to notify him of potential conflict situations.
According to Ruby, "[Ford's] history of violating the Code of Conduct as well as his complete failure to make himself aware of his responsibilities as a member of Council (despite his long tenure on Council) demonstrate an attitude that the rules do not apply to him."
Lenczner filed his factum on December 12. Several legal experts have predicted his case is unlikely to convince the judges that Ford should be allowed to keep his job.
The appeal hearing will be held on January 7, with a ruling expected no later than February. If Ford loses, council must declare the mayor's seat vacant, and then decide whether to call a by-election or appoint someone to hold the position until the scheduled 2014 election.