Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale has begun proceedings for a libel suit against Mayor Rob Ford over statements the mayor made in a Vision TV interview with Conrad Black. The libel notice also names Vision TV, ZoomerMedia Ltd. and ZoomerMedia Ltd.'s TV division.
This is the full text of the libel notice, from Blakes, Cassels & Grayton LLP of Toronto, as addressed to the mayor; ZoomerMedia president Moses Znaimer; vice-president (corporate services and television operations) Rob Wright; and vice president (programming) Beverley Shenken.
Dear Mayor Ford, Mr. Znaimer, Mr. Wright and Ms. Shenken:
We act for Daniel Dale, a reporter with the Toronto Star.
This letter shall constitute notice under section 5 (1) of Ontario's Libel and Slander Act. In a television show "The Zoomer", hosted by Conrad Black and broadcast on December 9 and December 10, 2013, on Vision TV (owned by ZoomerMedia Limited and ZoomerMedia Limited, TV Division – all collectively "ZoomerMedia"), Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stated of Mr. Dale:
- “Daniel Dale in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say the word, but you start thinking, you know, what’s this guy all about?”
This is a vicious libel of Mr. Dale. In its plain and ordinary meaning, Rob Ford is calling Mr. Dale a paedophile.
Mayor Ford then went on to have the following exchange with Mr. Black:
- Ford: [...] this is about 5 o’clock at night, when it’s getting a little dark. I ran around the back, I live on the back of an RV and I caught this guy, on the bricks, over the fence, taking pictures. I got pretty upset. He started screaming and yelling, dropped his phone, dropped his camera and everything.
- Black: Did he run away?
- Ford: Oh he ran away. He fled on foot. I was upset. That’s just crossing the line.
- Black: Was it on city property? Or was he trespassing on your property?
- Ford: He went on, he went around. I guess it would be on city property. It was on my property, on the fence. And he had cinderblocks that he had to step on to get over the fence. And he started taking pictures.
These statements are false in virtually every detail, including, in their plain and ordinary meaning and by implication, the assertion that Mr. Dale trespassed on the Mayor's property and acted surreptitiously and inappropriately. A police investigation found no evidence that Mr. Dale went onto the Mayor's property or peered over his fence, nor did he take any steps to do so.
The defamatory statements made are completely unfounded, as Mr. Ford and ZoomerMedia know. They were uttered maliciously by Mr. Ford, and broadcast and rebroadcast maliciously by ZoomerMedia.
Further, as Mr. Ford and ZoomerMedia anticipated, Ford's statements about Mr. Dale have been repeated and republished by mass media, including large daily newspapers. This was a natural and probable consequence of the broadcast.
Indeed, as the show was pre-recorded, ZoomerMedia had ample opportunity to edit out these grossly defamatory statements by Mr. Ford. It failed to do so. Instead, ZoomerMedia promoted the upcoming broadcast of the interview with Mayor Ford far and wide, including on its website.
Mayor Ford subsequently compounded the harm caused by stating, at a press conference on the afternoon of December 10, in response to questions about the defamatory statements, that "I stand by every word", and encouraged people to watch the show. He further aggravated Mr. Dale's damages by his statements this morning on the Washington D.C. radio show, The Sports Junkies.
The false and defamatory statements have caused and are continuing to cause serious harm to Mr. Dale's professional and personal reputation. Mr. Dale reserves all of his rights, including to seek damages from Mayor Ford and ZoomerMedia.
ZoomerMedia and Rob Ford should immediately retract the false and deamatory statements in their entirety, and apologize to Mr. Dale – publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely – if they wish to even begin to undo the harm caused by the broadcast of Mr. Ford's outrageous statements.
Yours very truly, Paul B. Schabas