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Rob Ford, the frontrunner in Toronto's mayoral race. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)
Rob Ford, the frontrunner in Toronto's mayoral race. (Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail)

Rob Ford sued by Beaches pub owner Add to ...

The owner of a Beaches pub that scored a controversial sole-sourced deal with the city has made good on his promise to sue Rob Ford.

The mayoral front-runner was served with a $6-million defamation lawsuit on Tuesday, his campaign confirmed.

"The claim is in the hands of Rob's lawyers, who will advise him on further actions," spokeswoman Adrienne Batra said.

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George Foulidis of Tuggs, Inc., which owns the Boardwalk Pub, alleges in his statement of claim that the Etobicoke councillor blackened Mr. Foulidis's reputation by suggesting he paid money under the table in exchange for a 20-year contract extension with the municipal government.

"As a direct result of the false and defamatory statements of Mr. Ford ... Mr. Foulidis has been cast as a criminal and has suffered embarrassment and humiliation," the document reads.

The statement of claim alleges that Mr. Ford libelled or slandered Mr. Foulidis in two instances.

The mayoral candidate suggested during an interview on Newstalk 1010 on July 29 that illicit cash fuelled the deal.

"Is someone getting money under the table?" host Jerry Agar asked Mr. Ford.

"I truly believe they are and that's my personal opinion," Mr. Ford replied, according to the statement of claim.

The document also points to an Aug. 12 cover story in the Toronto Sun in which Mr. Ford accused Toronto city council of "corruption" in the Boardwalk Pub deal without providing any evidence of wrongdoing.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The Boardwalk Pub controversy stretches back to 2006, when Toronto city councillors voted at their final meeting before that year's election to extend Tuggs Inc.'s monopoly on food and beverage sales in the Eastern Beaches beyond the 2007 expiry date.

Earlier in 2006, Mr. Foulidis, who has operated the Boardwalk Pub and two concession stands at Kew Gardens and D.D. Summerville Pool on city-owned beachfront land since 1986, approached the municipal government with a lease proposal that included base rent of $250,000 per year and unlimited sponsorship rights on most of the Eastern Beaches.

City staff recommended competitive bids. However, council rejected staff's advice at the urging of Councillor Sandra Bussin, who praised Tuggs Inc., as a bulwark against corporate fast-food chains invading the Beaches.

Last spring, city staff reached a tentative deal with Mr. Foulidis - with new terms including the right to sell merchandise on the boardwalk and alcohol in Ashbridge's Bay Park, and pay $50,000 less in annual rent than Mr. Foulidis's original offer.

However, city staff eventually rejected Mr. Foulidis's proposal to erect an unlimited number of sponsorship and advertising signs, which persuaded parties to settle on the lower rent rate.

In May, council voted 15 to 13 in favour of the deal; Ms. Bussin recused herself from the debate and vote. An attempt at the June council meeting to re-open the matter failed.

 

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