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GOVERNMENT - Council members - Elections - Campaign financing - Surplus

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 @ 5:52 AM  

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Appeal by the intervener, a Toronto voter, from a decision granting the respondent Karygiannis relief from forfeiture of his office. The respondent was re-elected a Councillor for the City of Toronto in 2018. In 2019, the respondent’s Supplementary Financial Statement showed he exceeded the allowable spending limit for expressions of appreciation during the 2018 election by a significant amount and contrary to the rules. Section 88.23(2) of the Municipal Elections Act provided for automatic forfeiture of office. The respondent applied for relief from forfeiture, claiming this was simply a good faith error in categorizing his expenses. The parties agreed the application judge erred in asserting there was jurisdiction to provide relief from forfeiture by invoking s. 92 of the Act to impute a good faith exception to the penalties set out in s. 88.23.

HELD: Appeal allowed. There was no jurisdiction to provide relief from forfeiture in the circumstances of this case. Relief from forfeiture was also not available under s. 98 of the Courts of Justice Act. The legislature made a deliberate choice to simplify the process for enforcing the Municipal Elections Act and remove the court’s ability to grant relief from forfeiture under s. 88.23. Section 88.23(2) was a statutory penalty. Section 98 of the Courts of Justice Act could not apply where granting relief would undermine the very consequences that the legislature prescribed for violating the provisions of the Act. Section 88.23 provided clear automatic consequences for breach of very specific statutory requirements, and the clear implication was that a candidate was not entitled to apply for relief from forfeiture in circumstances other than a s. 92 conviction.

Karygiannis v. Toronto (City), [2020] O.J. No. 2807, Ontario Court of Appeal, M.L. Benotto, B. Zarnett and J.A. Thorburn JJ.A., June 24, 2020. Digest No. TLD-July272020006