Jim Karygiannis leaving politics after being removed from Toronto city council for 3rd time

Former Toronto city councillor Jim Karygiannis says he will be retiring from politics after being removed from office for a third time over a campaign spending violation from the 2018 municipal election.

The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday announced it has dismissed an appeal filed by Karygiannis in response to a decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal this June.

The former Scarborough-Agincourt councillor spent more than $32,000 on a voter appreciation dinner after the 2018 election, which is nearly $26,000 more than the limit set out in provincial regulations.

Karygianns declined an interview request by CBC Toronto, and instead issued a statement on his personal website.

“After 32 years serving as your Member of Parliament and your Toronto city councillor, I am leaving politics.

“It has been an honour and privilege to serve the people of Scarborough-Agincourt. I want to thank them for the trust they have shown me,” the statement reads.

Karygiannis was a Liberal MP from 1988 to 2014 before his election to Toronto city council in 2014.

“Councillor Karygiannis has given a big part of his life to public service and to public life, and you’re always sorry to see these things happen, but the law has to be upheld and has to be respected,” said Mayor John Tory during a Thursday morning news conference.

Toronto city council will consider whether to hold a byelection or fill the seat by appointment at its next meeting on Sept. 30, though Tory cautioned that a final decision may not be made at that meeting.

Series of back-and-forth rulings come to a close

Karygiannis was first removed from office in November 2019 after details about the alleged spending violations were first reported by Toronto.com.

He was reinstated later that month by a Superior Court judge, who said that Karygiannis “acted in good faith” and did not appear to have deliberately skirted election laws.

Karygiannis described the spending violation as a “clerical error.”

Following the first reinstatement, Adam Chaleff, a local fair elections advocate, successfully appealed the Ontario Superior Court ruling in June, which triggered Karygiannis’ second removal from office.

However, Karygiannis quickly appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court of Canada, and he was allowed to return to his seat on council while the appeal was active.

The protracted legal saga appears to have now reached its end, as there is no higher court at which Karygiannis may continue to challenge the ruling.

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