A Toronto man has filed a complaint against Mayor Rob Ford with the city’s integrity commissioner, alleging improper use of influence and city property. His complaints stem from allegations outlined in a police document released in court and in media reports.
Ray Fredette, 62, filed his formal complaint to the Office of the Integrity Commissioner last week, claiming that Mr. Ford broke the council code of conduct by using city-paid staff and resources for personal benefit, as well as to benefit his own private business.
The complaint cites as evidence a nearly-500-page police document on a Toronto Police drug investigation that targeted Mr. Ford and his friend Alessandro Lisi. The document details police interviews with former Ford staffers who allege the mayor called on them for personal errands, such as changing a light bulb and purchasing laundry detergent. Other staffers said they were asked to purchase alcohol for the mayor, and perform tasks for the high school football team the mayor coached. None of the allegations has been proven in court.
“We’re paying, as citizens and taxpayers, for his salary, and the salary of his staff,” Mr. Fredette said of Mr. Ford. “So his time is on our dime, and there’s a lot of occasions where we weren’t getting value for our money.”
The mayor declined to comment on the complaint.
Mr. Fredette, a retired executive assistant with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, said the legal costs of his case against the mayor are being borne by himself and his lawyer. He described himself as “left of centre,” and has participated in anti-Ford rallies at City Hall in the past, but said his complaint is not politically motivated.
“On December 7, 2010, at the inaugural meeting of council, he took an oath, and he became my mayor” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, he broke his oath a number of times.”
Mr. Fredette’s lawyer, Tim Gleason, said that other allegations involving the mayor – involvement with alleged gang members and alleged drug use – “are for the police to investigate. But the use of his influence in city resources are within the jurisdiction of the commissioner.” Mr. Gleason’s firm also represented Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler whose 2011 complaint against the mayor’s election expenses resulted in a full audit that found Mr. Ford had overspent the limit.
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner is held to strict confidentiality requirements, and did not comment on Mr. Fredette’s complaint. According to protocol, integrity commissioner Janet Leiper must now decide whether her office has jurisdiction to deal with the complaint, and if so, whether to pursue an investigation. The commissioner would then report her findings to council, which decides whether to impose a penalty.
In the cases where the mayor’s staff were asked to perform personal tasks, the complaint reads, “these services were provided by staff earning salaries paid for by City of Toronto taxpayers.” The staff were being treated “as his personal concierge,” Mr. Fredette added.
The complaint also outlines “an unacceptably high number of unexplained absences from City Hall,” citing the police report’s mention of the mayor’s frequent meetings with an alleged drug dealer during office hours.
Mr. Fredette’s complaint also cites as evidence a Globe and Mail article from December that “Mayor Ford used his influence as mayor to intervene on behalf of a company with which his family business has a commercial relationship.” That story revealed that Mr. Ford called senior city staff to attend a meeting for a concern brought forth by Apollo Health and Beauty Care, a client of Mr. Ford’s family business.
Mr. Ford, who is running for re-election, has brushed off questions related to the police document in the past as “personal.” But Mr. Fredette sees it differently.
“The usual things you expect in a leader: honour, integrity, sobriety, punctuality, those are 24-7. Those types of values don’t keep office hours,” he said. “How do you go from being honest before 5:00 p.m., then change at 5:01?”