Former city councillor Jim Karygiannis would face 'uphill battle' to get his job back

Toronto Councillor Jim Karygiannis

Former Scarborough-area city councillor Jim Karygiannis seems confident he'll get his job back one day.

The veteran politician was thrown out of office earlier this week over allegations he broke Ontario's election campaign finance laws after last year's municipal election.

Karygiannis has said through a written statement that he believes there was a clerical error and that he's looking forward to clarifying the matter.

The former Liberal MP says he's speaking with his lawyer and will have an update to share next week.

In the meantime, Karygiannis says he will keep helping residents in Ward 22 on an 'unofficial' basis.

Staffers who had been working under Karygiannis will continue to serve constituents while reporting to Toronto's City Clerk.

Municipal lawyer John Mascarin of Aird & Berlis LLP expects it would take nothing short of a legal Hail Mary for Karygiannis to be reinstated.

"He may have a claim against his accountant saying that 'you put the wrong numbers on the wrong lines' but he had an opportunity to know and to get a consultation and to file (his paperwork)," Mascarin says.

Ontario's laws on election campaign spending were tightened up 3 years ago, Mascarin adds, and this is something that all city councillors likely would have been briefed on by the City Clerk.

Mascarin believes Karygiannis would only find sympathy from a court if he could prove that he really did spend within the campaign limits, or that city officials made some kind of error in determining his expenses were not in compliance with the rules.

"I think the city is going to marshal ahead and only if compelled by a court would it would say 'no, we'll do something different," Mascarin says.

He believes one possible scenario that Karygiannis and his legal team could consider is asking a judge for an injunction.

If Karygiannis wins, it is possible that an injunction would prevent the city from filling the former councillor's seat until he has his day in court.

Regardless, Mascarin contends that Ontario's campaign spending laws are clear and all politicians have no excuse to not be aware of what they are and to comply with them.

"I think Mr. Karygiannis is facing a real uphill battle," he says.

Its expected Toronto city council will officially declare Karygiannis's seat vacant at its November 26th meeting.

That will start the countdown on a 60-day deadline within which Council must decide whether to replace Karygiannis by appointment, or through a by-election.