TORONTO -- A contrite Rob Ford finally offered a qualified apology on Tuesday for the way he had handled his conflict-of-interest situation, but said he would fight to stay on as mayor.
At a news conference, Ford said his appeal of a judge's decision to boot him from office should not be construed as criticism of the courts.
"Looking back, maybe, I could have expressed myself in a different way," Ford said.
"To everyone who believes I should have done this differently, I sincerely apologize."
Playing an emotional trump card, the embattled mayor said the "entire matter" started because he "loves to help kids play football."
"I was focused on raising money to help underprivileged youth."
To that end, Ford solicited donations from lobbyists for his private football foundation using city letterhead.
He repeatedly refused the integrity commissioner's orders to repay the $3,150, and was booted Monday for conflict because he voted at a council meeting on the repayment.
"I never believed there was a conflict of interest because I had nothing to gain, and the city had nothing to lose," Ford said.
The mayor's comments came after the city's top lawyer said Ford could not run in any byelection if one is called to choose his successor and his lawyer said he is seeking a stay of the judge's ruling.
The stay application will be heard Dec. 5.
-- The Canadian Press