With less than one week before the mayor returns to work, Toronto’s integrity commissioner is being urged to expand her investigation of Rob Ford’s role in opening doors at city hall for businesses with ties to his family’s firm.
Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper began an investigation earlier this year into allegations the mayor violated council’s code of conduct by using city-paid staff and resources for personal benefit, but that work was put on hold after Mr. Ford took a leave.
Ms. Leiper has indicated she will reopen her investigation when the mayor returns. When she does, Tim Gleason, the lawyer representing Toronto resident Ray Fredette, who lodged the original complaint, is asking that the probe be expanded to include Councillor Doug Ford and the new evidence uncovered by The Globe and Mail.
The new findings include evidence that Mayor Ford and his brother helped printing giant RR Donnelley and Sons lobby the city for work without disclosing that their family company, Deco Labels and Tags, was negotiating a referral agreement with them.
The Globe also found the Ford brothers lobbied the city’s most senior bureaucrats in the months after they took office, intervening on behalf of another Deco client, Apollo Health and Beauty Care.
Mr. Fredette said he was prompted to file the additional complaint in part because the two cases raise questions about the mayor’s record of fiscal management. Mr. Fredette said that while many people complain about the mayor’s personal behaviour or language, he decided to focus on his claims of fiscal responsibility. “I wanted to follow the money,” he said.
Councillor Ford told The Globe and Mail recently that he and his brother have never used their public office to advance their business interests. “Not whatsoever,” he said. “But the media wants to twist it around that we have and keep digging up old stories that are not relevant at all, whatsoever – that’s just the games that you want to play.”
He described Deco Labels as a profitable company with no debt and characterized former staff who have spoken to reporters as “disgruntled employees.”
Mr. Fredette said the fact printing firm RR Donnelley did not get city business does not excuse the Ford’s behaviour. “You don’t judge these things from the end result. The fact that there was an attempt at the front end of bringing them in – that’s improper, right there,” he said. “Had it resulted in any contracts, they still would have been quiet about it. They wouldn’t be trumpeting it. It was only in the research of the media [that this came to light.]”