Councillor calls Ford 'bully,' 'liar' after robocalls
Chris Kitching, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:49PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 15, 2013 5:26PM EDT
A Toronto councillor who was targeted in robocalls to his constituents lashed out at the mayor Tuesday, calling him a bully and a liar as he repeated his vow to file complaints with the city’s integrity commissioner.
Residents of Coun. Paul Ainslie’s ward received a recorded telephone call from Mayor Rob Ford on Friday night after Ainslie voted against a Scarborough subway plan championed by the mayor.
The calls were made a few hours after Ainslie quit Ford’s executive committee.
At a news conference Tuesday, Ainslie said the robocalls were a “blatant act of political thuggery” and he isn’t going to back down.
“I’m here today to start the fight back against a bully and a liar,” Ainslie told reporters. “I’m here to say enough is enough with this mayor who thinks he can get away with anything by twisting the truth, saying some of the truth or not telling it straight at all.”
“I’m here to tell the Ford brothers this: I’m not scared of you,” Ainslie added.
In the recording, Ford singles out Ainslie and says it was “extremely unfortunate” that the councillor did not vote in favour of the subway extension in his ward.
Ainslie said he's also thinking of filing a complaint with the CRTC.
On his radio show Sunday, Ford said he didn't do anything wrong since he believes it's his “responsibility to the taxpayers” to make sure constituents know how their councillors vote.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday afternoon the mayor repeated his belief that he acted ethically.
"I just told people how he voted, no more no less," he said. "I'm still confused on this whole issue. I'm telling the taxpayers how their money is being spent. That's what I've been elected to do."
Ford said he paid for the robocalls and they didn’t cost taxpayers any money. He wouldn't say how much the stunt cost him.
"I'm not getting into the cost, it was a few hundred bucks," he said. "I wrote out a script, bounced it off some people and put it out about five minutes after."
Ainslie defended his voting record Tuesday and denied the mayor’s claim that he led a charge to derail the subway plan in favour of light-rail transit.
Ainslie said he supported Ford’s subway plan in the past because it was based on “financial transparency” and did not contain a tax increase.
The mayor stood for the same thing, Ainslie told reporters.
Ainslie said he decided not to back the subway proposal at last week’s council meeting because the modified plan includes a tax hike and some of the financial implications are unknown.
“It’s the mayor who caved, not me,” Ainslie said. “It’s the mayor who’s now doing what he always does when he doesn’t want to be caught out or truthful. He’s just using his bully pulpit to find a scapegoat for his own failings at city hall or out on the streets of Toronto.”
Ainslie said he “voted the other way” because he’s not interested in creating tax hikes or a “financial boondoggle” for an overtaxed city.
Ainslie said the robocalls were made after Ford made a polite gesture and made it seem like their relationship wasn’t fractured.
“When I told the mayor the other day I was resigning from his executive committee he looked me in the eye, said he respected me and looked forward to us being friends for a long time to come,” Ainslie said. “Just three short hours later, he carpet-bombed Scarborough residents with a robocall telling them I voted against subways.”
Ford told CP24 he planned to kick Ainslie off of the committee for voting against the subway plan.
In an interview with reporters Tuesday, Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, defended the use of robocalls.
“The issue is, what is wrong with telling the people of his ward that he voted against subways when he knows 70 per cent of them want subways,” Doug Ford said. “Not only did he do that, he led the charge for LRTs and he’s flip-flopped three times. What is wrong with telling his constituents that?”
Doug Ford said he would be “proud” if Ainslie robocalled his constituents about his own voting record.
“I’d be as happy as anything and I’d thank him and probably bring him out for lunch,” said Doug Ford, who also took aim at councillors who criticized the mayor for his use of robocalls.
Doug Ford said the group of “anti-Rob Ford” councillors are the “biggest bullies” at city hall.
- With files from The Canadian Press.
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