In the battle of Ford brother apologies, the councillor is now beating the mayor.
Toronto’s integrity commissioner has dropped her recommendation that Councillor Doug Ford be reprimanded for insulting the medical officer of health because the councillor apologized to the doctor in a radio interview last week.
Dr. David McKeown and John Filion, the councillor who filed the complaint, told Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper on Tuesday that they accepted Doug Ford’s apology. Ms. Leiper gave the councillor’s apology the thumbs-up one day after her office published a separate report rejecting Mayor Rob Ford’s letter of retraction on the same matter.
He did not actually say sorry in his letter, prompting Ms. Leiper to recommend council vote to formally reprimand the mayor.
Like his brother, the mayor disparaged Dr. McKeown during the duo’s Newstalk 1010 radio show on April 29.
The mayor said the salary paid to the city’s top public health official was “an embarrassment” and suggested Dr. McKeown overstepped his mandate with a $60,000 report advocating lower speed limits to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
“Why does he still have a job?” Doug Ford twice asked, referring to Dr. McKeown as “this guy.”
Ms. Leiper’s original reports on the brothers’ behaviour were released last week as part of the city council agenda.
The mayor reacted to the findings by suggesting the integrity commissioner’s office and those of two other public watchdogs, the ombudsman and the lobbyist registrar, be abolished to save tax dollars.
He suggested a single lawyer on retainer could replace all three.
Doug Ford, meanwhile, decided to apologize to Dr. McKeown when pressed during a radio interview on AM640 last Thursday.
“If I’ve offended the medical officer of health in any way, I do apologize,” he said. “So there’s the apology there for the medical officer of health.”
When Councillor Ford tried to segue to celebrating the mayor’s accomplishments on the two-year anniversary of his election, the host, Arlene Bynon, asked him if the apology was heartfelt.
“You know I feel sometimes you live in a socialist state that they force you to say something even though you don’t believe in what you’re saying,” the councillor replied.
“So you’re not apologizing?” Ms. Bynon asked.
“No, if I’ve offended the medical officer of health, Doug Ford apologizes to him. In saying that, who’s going to apologize to the taxpayers when they go out and spend $60,000 on a transportation study?”
Ms. Bynon pressed the councillor further. “Is there not a way to disagree with the findings of the report without calling somebody an embarrassment?”
“Yeah, no there is. I spoke out of line and for the third time I will apologize, once again, to the medical officer of health,” Mr. Ford said. “We’re going to agree to disagree on this issue. I could have used better words and I do apologize for the fourth time now.”
Ms. Leiper’s reports are on the agenda for this week’s council meeting, which began Tuesday.
However, debate on the recommendations could be postponed until after a judge releases a decision in an unrelated conflict-of-interest case against Rob Ford.