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Doug Ford violated Toronto city council’s code of conduct, watchdog rules

During his term as a Toronto city councillor, Doug Ford helped two clients of his family’s business arrange meetings with the city officials.

Christopher Katsarov/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Former councillor Doug Ford broke council rules when he tried to help two clients of his family's business in their dealings with the city, Toronto's integrity commissioner says.

But in a report headed to city council next week, integrity commissioner Valerie Jepson recommends that Mr. Ford receive no penalty because her office can only issue reprimands or dock a politician's pay, and he is no longer a councillor.

Ms. Jepson concludes that Mr. Ford violated council's code of conduct rule against accepting gifts when he attended a Rogers Cup tennis event and dinner, along with his mother, at the invitation of Apollo Health & Beauty, a customer of Deco Labels and Tags Ltd.

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Read more: The inside story of Doug Ford at Deco

Her report also finds that Mr. Ford violated code of conduct rules against the "improper use of influence" during his term by making inquiries and arranging meetings with city officials on behalf of Apollo and another Deco client, U.S. printing giant RR Donnelley and Sons, which was seeking to do business with the city.

The allegations were published in Globe and Mail investigations in 2014 – stories that prompted ethics watchdog Democracy Watch and others to file complaints to the integrity commissioner, who polices the conduct of councillors.

On Thursday, Mr. Ford said that, as a private citizen, he should no longer be subject to such investigations.

"She has zero authority," he said of the integrity commissioner.

"She's a toothless tiger. Where is her integrity?"

He suggested Ms. Jepson had a "political agenda" and called her a "Kathleen Wynne appointee," because she previously worked for the office of Ontario's Integrity Commissioner. The Ontario Premier did not appoint Ms. Jepson to that position or her current one.

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Mr. Ford, who has in recent months mused about running for mayor or a seat at Queen's Park, said he did nothing wrong by arranging meetings for the two companies with city officials. In Apollo's case, he said he was trying to help a major local employer.

In the case of Donnelley, he said he thought the company's services could save the city "millions." He also said he "ended up paying" for the tennis tickets.

Mr. Ford replaced his brother Rob Ford in the 2014 mayoral election when he was diagnosed with cancer. Ms. Jepson closed a parallel probe of Rob Ford, whom she said co-operated with the investigation, after he died earlier this year.

A Globe investigation revealed that in 2011, the Fords helped Apollo lobby Joe Pennachetti, who was then the city manager, for a larger property-tax break than it had received under an incentive program.

Mr. Pennachetti said he was not told Apollo was a client of the Fords' family business. In 2012, the Fords met with city officials, including the head of Toronto Water, to discuss a sewer-spill traced to Apollo's plant.

In 2014, Doug Ford said Deco had received "zero" referrals from Chicago-based giant RR Donnelley, which had approached city officials in 2011 with the help of the Fords to seek printing work.

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A Globe investigation based on interviews with former staff at Deco's Toronto plant, and an internal list of Deco clients, showed the Ford family business had earlier been subcontracted by Moore Canada, which Donnelley had acquired in 2007, to print baggage tags and other items.

The salesperson listed as responsible was Doug Ford.

Duff Conacher, a co-founder of Democracy Watch, said the report shows the commissioner needs powers to issue stiffer penalties, including to politicians who have left office.

"Retiring or not running again should not permit you to escape any penalty," Mr. Conacher said.

Ms. Jepson says in her report that Deco refused to provide documents she sought in a summons. Apollo provided some records, but refused to hand over specific information about the value of its business with Deco.

Mr. Ford, she says, after agreeing to provide information about the value of business relationships between Deco and the two companies, "failed to do so."

Donnelley provided such information, and Ms. Jepson concludes there was "no different business relationship or volume of work" between Donnelley and Deco as a result of Mr. Ford's actions.

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