ABOVE: Rob Ford refuses to apologize for controversial Conrad Black interview. Jackson Proskow reports.
TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford refused to apologize after appearing to accuse Toronto reporter Daniel Dale of pedophilia during an interview with former media baron Conrad Black.
“I stand by every word I said with Mr. Black in my interview,” he said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The interview of Ford by Black, who was convicted and served time in prison for fraud, was broadcast Monday on Vision TV on Black’s “Zoomer” channel “for Boomers with zip.”
“He’s taking photos of little kids,” Ford said during the interview. “I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking ‘What’s this guy all about?’”
During the sympathetic interview, Black called Ford’s political opponents hypocrites, condemned media coverage of the mayor and commended Ford’s fiscal record (which has been roundly questioned). He also asked about Ford’s relationship with Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.
Ford took several shots at the media, focusing on the incident involving the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale, whom Ford confronted while Dale was looking at a public park behind Ford’s house that the mayor was trying to buy in May 2012.
Ford suggested Dale was more interested in taking photos of his children than the property.
Councillor Doug Ford told reporters at city hall that his brother did not insinuate Dale was a pedophile.
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The newspaper’s lawyers are now “involved” according to a tweet from reporter Robyn Doolittle.
“The vicious libel was against Daniel Dale, not the Star,” Michael Cooke, the editor of the Toronto Star said in an email. “It will be Daniel’s decision whether to pursue legal action. If he decides to issue a suit, the Star will back him 100 per cent.”
Dale described Ford’s comments as “categorically false.”
“It’s amazing. I don’t know what to say about it,” Dale said Tuesday. “In the calmest terms possible, it is unpleasant when the mayor of the biggest city in Canada essentially accuses you, or suggests you are a pedophile.”
Dale told The Toronto Star he was in the public park beside the mayor’s home to do research.
“I was there simply because I had learned that the mayor had made a rare request to purchase public land. Before I wrote an article, I wanted to make sure I knew what the land looked like, where exactly it was situated, and how it might benefit him,” Dale said, according to the Toronto Star.
Deputy mayor Norm Kelly described the mayor’s comments as “beyond the pale” and suggested he should apologize to the reporter.
Ford also took aim at the Toronto police chief during the interview, stating he wants to know how much money was spent conducting surveillance on him over the past eight months.
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Ford told Black he supports Toronto’s frontline officers but has “an issue” with the chief.
“I definitely think this is political. I think they use [Sandro] Lisi as a prop to get to me,” he said.
Blair has previously denied the accusation that a police investigation into a video showing the mayor smoking what looks like crack cocaine is political. The chief has said his job is to investigate “without fear or favour.”
But Ford said it was motivated by budgetary clashes he and Blair have had in the past.
During the interview Ford also told Black he would be willing to take a urine test to prove he’s not using drugs or alcohol. (The mayor has made this offer before).
Ford has recently admitted to using crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs and drinking to excess. But he refuses to step down, and told Black he’s still confident he’ll win the next election.
Toronto councillors have removed many of his powers as mayor – something Ford says is “illegal.” The ongoing scandal has made him the fodder for late night U.S. talk shows.
With files from Jackson Proskow and The Canadian Press
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