Watch above: Mark McAllister reports on the ongoing conflict between the Fords and Chief Bill Blair.
TORONTO – Toronto police Chief Bill Blair has kept his vow to take legal action against Doug Ford after the councillor insinuated Blair leaked news that Doug Ford’s brother Mayor Rob Ford will be subpoenaed in the extortion trial of the mayor’s friend Sandro Lisi.
Blair said two weeks ago Doug Ford was “lying” and Blair was “prepared to take legal action” after the mayor’s brother called the leaked information “payback” for Blair’s not getting his contract renewed.
But Doug Ford told reporters Tuesday he’s “not concerned” about the legal action – and didn’t apologize or retract his statement, as Blair’s notice of defamation requested.
Instead, Ford deflected reporters’ questions and asked why the chief was using police communications staff for so-called “personal issues.”
“So is he using city employees, Mark Pugash, to be his spokesperson? So is that not taxpayers money?”
Doug Ford on Bill Blair’s defamation suit: “Do I look worried?”
As police spokesperson Pugash usually does, he took questions for Blair, who is still police chief until his contract ends next April.
(Ironically, Rob Ford’s opponents have made similar accusations as he uses city-salaried staff and resources in his re-election campaign)
“Chief Blair said in his statement that he was prepared to take legal action, and now he has,” Pugash told Global News.
Pugash also said the legal action does not involve taxpayers’ money and any legal fees will be paid for by the chief.
Ford received the notice of defamation Monday night with Blair asking for a full retraction and a public apology.
He refused to tell reporters Tuesday whether or not he would apologize.
Mayor Rob Ford refused to answer questions about the matter Tuesday, saying the issue was “between the chief and my brother.”
“I’ve said what I had to say about the chief. I wish him the best of luck. I want to thank him for his service. And that’s all I can say,” he said at an afternoon press conference before adding he was “baffled” by how the media found out about the defamation notice so soon after it was served to his brother.
According to a report in the Toronto Star earlier this month, police plan to subpoena Rob Ford to testify in Lisi’s extortion case.
Pugash would not comment on the subpoena, citing the ongoing police investigation.
Both Fords’ relationship with Blair has been strained since Blair confirmed the existence of a video showing the mayor smoking what looks like crack cocaine last year. Blair said at the time he was “disappointed.”
The Star quoted Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris as saying it’s not a matter of if the mayor will get a subpoena notice, but when.
But when asked by the Globe and Mail a few days later, Morris said the subpoena has not yet happened and suspects the timing of the information leak may be “political.”
Lisi’s extortion case and drug charges will go to court in the spring of 2015.