The mayor’s lawyer accused the owner of Boardwalk Pub of using a $6-million defamation lawsuit to deliberately stall the mayor’s plan to revisit the restaurant’s controversial 20-year lease.
During his cross-examination of George Foulidis Thursday, lawyer Gavin Tighe asked Mr. Foulidis if he thought Mr. Ford, once elected, would re-visit the sole-source arrangement. When Mr. Foulidis said yes, Mr. Tighe said, “And you know that as long as this litigation is pending, he is not able to do that because to do so would be a conflict of interest, right? Because you’re suing.”
Mr. Foulidis answered: “I don’t know what his rights are or not as a mayor.”
The trial, now in its third day, halted at the lunch break and a parallel trial continued Thursday afternoon, in which Mr. Foulidis is suing Bruce Baker, a council candidate in the last election. Mr. Ford was not available to attend court because of an unnamed conflict. Thursday afternoon, the mayor, it turned out, was coaching his high school football team, the Don Bosco Eagles, in a Metro Bowl qualifying match in Scarborough. The Eagles won 31-0 over the Northern Red Knights and advance to the Nov. 27 semi-finals.
A key focus of Mr. Ford’s trial, which resumes Friday morning, has been an article published by the Toronto Sun that followed an editorial board meeting the paper had with Mr. Ford on August 11, 2010, during his run for mayor. It is alleged that Mr. Ford called the restaurant deal with the city corrupt. What is not clear is whom Mr. Ford accused of being corrupt, but Mr. Foulidis said that he took offence to the word “corruption” in the article linking him, his pub and the city. Mr. Foulidis is not suing the Sun. “I don’t believe that they [politicians] should make comment about a private citizen like me and use the words ‘corruption’ without having any evidence or backing it up,” said Mr. Foulidis.
However, Mr. Ford’s lawyer argued that, in the interest of balance, the Sun published stories that represented both positive and negative sides of the restaurant deal. Mr. Foulidis agreed that a Sun article dated Sept. 17, 2010 seemed to take his side in the so-called corruption scandal, in which Mr. Foulidis was accused of financially influencing councillors to agree to the deal. Mr. Tighe also mentioned stories published by other media outlets that shone a more positive light on Mr. Foulidis and his restaurant lease.
Mr. Foulidis said he followed due process as a citizen and a businessman. “All I wanted to do was re-negotiate my lease,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Any businessman would do that.”