By Claire McCormack
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is in hot water again – this time he’s facing a 6-million dollar lawsuit in a court case that began Tuesday.
Toronto’s Boardwalk Pub owner George Foulidis is suing the mayor for defamatory comments about a contract between the city and Foulidis’s company Tuggs Inc. that Foulidis argues were damaging.
Foulidis made the complaint in October 2010, and asked publicly for an apology in September 2012.
The comments in question happened in 2010 when Ford was a councillor for Ward 2 and running for mayor.
Ford criticized deals between the city and Tuggs Inc. on a contract, suggesting on a radio talk show he thought dealing behind closed doors was corrupt.
He told Newstalk 1010 on Aug. 29 2010, “I truly believe they are, and that’s my personal opinion, and when I see all these donations, going through campaigns, it stinks to high heaven.”
The meeting in question had been closed to the public and dealt with awarding a contract for 20 years to Tuggs Inc., giving the company exclusive rights to sell gifts and refreshments in that section of the Beaches area.
“These in-camera meetings, there’s more corruption and skullduggery going on in there than I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ford was quoted in an Aug. 12, 2010 Toronto Sun article.
“I can’t accuse anyone or I can’t pinpoint it, but why do we have to go in camera on the Tuggs deal?”
Ford’s remarks were met with criticism from then mayor David Miller,who was quoted by Sue-Ann Levy in the Sun article as saying, “If there’s a single piece of evidence that he thinks is improper Coun. Ford should have been reporting it to those people.”
He also called Ford’s comments “disgusting” and “irresponsible.”
A number of high profile people have been subpoenaed to possibly testify in the case, including former mayor David Miller, and Newstalk 1010 journalists Jerry Agar and John Tory.
John Miller, Professor Emeritus and former Journalism chair at Ryerson University, highlighted the question the court will face.
“What it’s going to come down to is –were the facts that the opinion, because this is Ford’s opinion, were the facts he was working on supportive of a reasonable person having that opinion?” Miller told Humber News.
Ford has been in legal hot water already this year in a conflict of interest case over the high school football team he coaches and the allocation of city resources to that team. The case is awaiting a judge’s decision. If found guilty Ford could be removed from office.