Mayor Rob Ford, accused of bullying by a once-close ally, used a picture of an unnamed figure, head down on a desk, to blast city workers who slack off on the job.
The mayor threatened to fire the employee in question and the responsible manager. Mr. Ford's promise to clean house was prompted by a picture circulated Wednesday by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who alleged it captured a city employee asleep on the job at 10:30 am at a North York community centre.
"We cannot tolerate this," the mayor said at a hastily called news conference. "The managers who are overseeing this employee obviously aren't doing their job."
Mr. Ford said he had contacted the general manager for parks, forestry and recreation about the matter and will ask that the manager and employee "be dismissed" if the allegations are borne out.
A spokewoman for the city said staff will "review this situation carefully."
"That's a complete embarrassment and a black eye on our city," said Mr. Ford, who also used the occasion to suggest he had plans to contract out recreation jobs. "I've looked at contracting out parks and rec," he said. "We are working on it."
The head of the union that represents the city's inside workers conceded the picture does not reflect well on his members. "Of course the optics look bad, " said CUPE 79 president Tim Maguire, who called the picture a "media stunt" designed to distract attention.
Mr. Maguire provided no details of the circumstances surrounding the image, noting it is against city policy to take pictures in recreation centres. Until it hears otherwise, he said the union is assuming the worker was on a mid-morning break.
He said he is unaware of plans to contract out recreation jobs, noting the union must be notified before that happens.
For Mr. Ford, who came to office on a pledge to cut waste and has been dogged by allegations of his own involving incriminating pictures, the photograph provided a chance to change the channel.
Also Wednesday, Councillor Paul Ainslie, who quit the mayor's executive last week and was the target of robocalls by the mayor, continued to speak out about Mr. Ford and what he describes as his bullying behaviour.