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Integrity commissioner seeks Ford reprimand

Mayor Rob Ford called the $294,302 salary of Dr. David McKeown, shown here, “an embarrassment” and accused him of overstepping his bounds with a $60,000 report recommending reducing speed limits to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

Toronto's integrity commissioner is now recommending Rob Ford be reprimanded for publicly disparaging the medical officer of health because the mayor refused to apologize in a letter of retraction.

"The features of the [mayor's] letter … create an overall impression of someone who is blaming others and minimizing his own behaviour," Janet Leiper, the integrity commissioner, wrote in a follow-up report released Monday. "It does not connect the retraction to the specific conduct. There is no sincere expression of regret."

Ms. Leiper released two separate reports last week scolding the mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, for comments they made about Dr. David McKeown on their Newstalk 1010 radio show April 29.

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The mayor called Dr. McKeown's $294,302 salary "an embarrassment" and accused him of overstepping his bounds with a $60,000 report recommending reducing speed limits to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

Doug Ford referred to Dr. McKeown as "this guy," and twice asked, "Why does he still have a job?"

The mayor submitted a retraction to the integrity commissioner on Oct. 23, the day her report was due, meaning the last-minute letter could not be included in Ms. Leiper's original report published last week.

The mayor's retraction letter criticizes Toronto Public Health for failing to include on its website a document that describes in detail the MOH's mandate – a mandate that covers recommendations such as those Dr. McKeown made in his walking and cycling report.

"If this broader document is the foundational document outlining the TPH mandate, as you argue it is, then I agree it may be interpreted to include increased public awareness of 'road and off-road safety' as part of a broader goal to prevent injury. With that in mind, I retract my public comments regarding Dr. McKeowan (sic)" the mayor's letter says. "I still believe that spending $60,000 to commission research that recommends an impractical solution seems extraordinarily wasteful."

The mayor's peace offering does not suffice, Ms. Leiper concluded. "The letter of retraction does not contain any apology. It also contains commentary that is unrelated to the Mayor's conduct. The first paragraph of the letter is critical of the accessibility of a public document on the [Toronto Public Health] website. It does not connect this idea to the Mayor's failure to speak respectfully of a public servant."

Last week, before the letter went public, Councillor John Filion called its contents "offensive."

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Mr. Filion, chair of the Toronto Board of Health, filed the complaints against the Ford brothers in May after they refused his calls for a public apology.

"It is just more of the same," Mr. Filion said of the letter. "It's using something characterized as an apology as an attempt to do more damage."

Ms. Leiper is recommending council vote to reprimand the mayor, a formal slap on the wrist that would carry no further penalty. Council could choose to reject that suggestion, or impose a more serious sanction.

Although the report is on the agenda for this week's meeting, debate on it could be postponed until after a judge rules on a conflict-of-interest lawsuit against the mayor.

That case also stemmed from an integrity commissioner's report.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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With a report from Elizabeth Church

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About the Author
Health reporter

Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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