Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologized to reporter Daniel Dale for his comments in a televised interview last week. Mr. Dale, however, said he is proceeding with his lawsuit, saying the mayor’s statement “didn’t come close” to the full apology and retraction that he had requested.
“While I appreciate the mayor's first step, no dad or teacher would accept that apology as sufficient. I would appreciate another try,” he said on Twitter.
Mr. Ford told council earlier Tuesday, “I did not mean to insinuate anything about Mr. Dale personally in my interview with Mr. [Conrad] Black,” Mr. Ford said in a council meeting Tuesday morning. “I certainly did not intend to suggest that he is a pedophile.”
“I wish to sincerely apologize again to Mr. Dale if my actual words have caused him any harm or personal offence.”
Mayor Ford also used the opportunity to lash out again at Mr. Dale’s employer, The Toronto Star, and outline again his version of the May, 2012, incident in which he confronted Mr. Dale in a public space behind his home.
“I have no issues with Daniel Dale personally. I understand that he is an employee in the very competitive news business,” the mayor read from a prepared statement. “I do take issue with his bosses at the Toronto Star to put him and I into this situation.”
Late last week, Mr. Dale, a city hall reporter at the Star, served Mr. Ford with a libel lawsuit after comments the mayor made to Mr. Black on Vision TV. The mayor, as well as Vision TV, were given three days to issue a full retraction and apology. That deadline lapsed on Sunday night.
During the interview that aired on Vision TV, Mr. Ford described the May, 2012, incident.
“He’s taking photos of little kids,” Mr. Ford told Mr. Black. “I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking, ‘What’s this guy all about?’ ”
According to Mr. Dale, the mayor’s account of the incident is “categorically false.”
He said that, since the televised interview, he has received messages “calling me a pedophile, a pervert, a sicko.”
“I was there to research a story about a mayor making a rare request to buy public land,” he told The Globe and Mail last week. “His kids were nowhere in sight. I saw no children. More importantly, after I offered to let police go through the phone, they saw no pictures whatsoever from that night.”
Mayor Ford’s long-time criminal lawyer and friend Dennis Morris (who is not representing Mayor Ford in the libel lawsuit) told the Globe that, though he’d discussed the option of apologizing with Mr. Ford yesterday, even he was surprised to hear that the mayor had decided to apologize.
“As you know, the mayor is a man who marches to the beat of his own drum.”
Mr. Morris suggested the reason the mayor decided to apologize may have been to avoid having a lawsuit distract him from the 2014 election. “I think now that Christmas is upon us, he wanted to kind of clear the slate of anything hanging over his head from 2013,” he said. “His hat is being thrown into the ring on January 2.”
After Mayor Ford offered his apology to Mr. Dale, the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, said “it was a good thing the mayor did today.”
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said that Mr. Ford's apology "appeared sincere."
But at least a few councillors questioned the mayor's timing, and whether his apology went far enough.
"The apology should've been done last week. The comments were totally inappropriate, but certainly, we're relieved an apology has been made," Councillor James Pasternak said.
Councillor John Parker said the mayor needs to learn "that words have meaning and they stick. Apologizing afterwards doesn't altogether undo the damage that is sometimes done."
Councillor Pam McConnell, who was accidentally knocked over by Mr. Ford last month on the council floor, also questioned the sincerity of the mayor’s apology . “I think it really was about him not ending up in a suit,” she said. “I don’t think it had very much to do with caring about whether or not he destroyed somebody’s reputation or, in my case, my health.”
Ms. McConnell said she is waiting for a report from city hall security on the incident involving her and the mayor, and will be forwarding it to the integrity commissioner. “I wish that our mayor had a filter both by his mouth and his actions so that we didn’t always have to listen to one apology after another,” she said.
With reports from Elizabeth ChurchReport Typo/Error