If Rob Ford asks Toronto police for a recording of the 911 call he made Monday morning after he was ambushed at his home by This Hour Has 22 Minutes, they will release it to him.
“And he could do with it whatever he chose,” said police spokesman Mark Pugash.
The contents of that call have stirred fresh controversy for the embattled mayor following a CBC News report alleging that Ford insulted the 911 dispatcher in a profanity-laced tirade.
Ford has admitted to using the f-word in the call, but has denied insulting the female operator, calling the CBC report “absolutely false.”
The CBC is standing by their story. “There were multiple sources who gave us information about the 911 call,” said CBC News spokesman Chris Ball. “We have reconfirmed with our sources and they stand behind what they have told us.”
The mayor initially called 911 when 22 Minutes cast member Mary Walsh, dressed in character as the outlandish and loud-mouthed Marg Delahunty, approached him in his driveway Monday morning.
The episode aired Tuesday night.
This morning, the CBC reported that when police didn’t arrive right away, Ford turned on the dispatcher in a subsequent call, yelling: “You … bitches! Don’t you f---ing know? I’m Rob f---ing Ford, the mayor of this city!”
Ford released a statement Thursday afternoon, denying the allegations.
“After being attacked in my driveway, I hope I can be excused for saying the f-word,” reads the statement. “I never called anyone any names. I apologize for expressing my frustration inappropriately.”
Speaking to reporters at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School — where the mayor coaches football — Ford said it was up to the police, not him, to release the recording.
After it was suggested to him that he could waive his privacy rights to have the tape released, Ford said he would speak to the police about it.
He refused to answer direct questions from a Star reporter about whether or not he would ask for the tape.
Ford reiterated his feeling of being “accosted” by Walsh and her camera crew.
“You have a big guy and a lady who looked like a guy dressed up … I couldn’t really tell and the first thing in the morning yelling and screaming at you. I’ve had a few death threats. I have to be careful and I’ve always been told call 911 if anything happens.”
Ford said he has never seen This Hour Has 22 Minutes. “I didn’t know who they were,” he said.
Ford said he would not ask the CBC for an apology, but if they did apologize said he “would appreciate it.”
He also apologized again for losing his temper with the 911 operator, but reiterated that he did not insult her or claim he deserved extra attention as the city’s mayor.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have used the ‘f-word’ — I apologize. But to say I called the dispatcher a bitch, I never said that … I was frustrated. I was very upset that they accosted me in my driveway.”
Earlier this week, Ford said he was “open to games,” but the comedy troupe “crossed the line” by ambushing him at his home, with his six-year-old daughter nearby. He said she fled back into the house crying.
Walsh told the Star the mayor’s daughter wasn’t there when she showed up in his driveway.
“There was no child at all,” she said. “I mean, was she inside his suit jacket? We never saw any children.”
Walsh said Ford seemed jovial at first: he “sort of smiled” when she first called out to him, and said he had to get to work. But when Ford got into his van and tried to close the door, it was clear he wasn’t in on the joke.
“He obviously was not going to listen to any advice I had ... or have anything to do with us whatsoever,” Walsh said.
Pressure was mounting Thursday at city hall for Ford to release the tapes.
Councillor Joe Mihevc said Ford must release tapes because Torontonians need to know how their senior elected officials are treating city staff members.
“If the style of management is one that is essentially brutal, that does not bode well for the running of this city so it’s absolutely important for the tapes to be released to clear the air,” said Mihevc, a member of council’s left wing. “If the tapes are not released, the absence of them basically verifies CBC’s version of events. If it turns out he behaved in the way CBC says he did, an apology is in order and people can question the appropriateness of his actions, and his ability to serve as mayor.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan, a frequent critic of the mayor, told reporters “the only way to solve this problem” is for Ford to get the 911 tapes released.
Josh Matlow, a centrist on council, said: “CBC may have crossed a certain line by going on to the mayor’s property. That being said though some of the words that were used seemed very tactless to me and no one should be using offensive language with our 911 operators.”
Matlow said if Ford is refuting the CBC’s report, “it would be in his interest to” have the tape released.
But not everyone on council was interested in getting the air cleared.
“Don’t we have more important things to deal with?” asked Peter Milczyn, a Ford ally.
Others called on the CBC to apologize.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a staunch Ford ally who sometimes speaks on his behalf, also defended the mayor to CBC journalists staking out Ford’s office this morning.
“I think you owe the mayor an apology, actually, CBC does” he told them. “You don’t show up at someone’s house early in the morning and scare the wits out of their family and expect that to be humorous.”
Mammoliti said the focus should be on how the 911 tapes were released and why the police took 10 minutes to get to Ford’s house.
“In a circumstance where somebody’s lingering around a house and not knowing who it might be and there’s a 911 call and people are afraid, I think 10 minutes is a long time to wait.”
“The point is they were afraid. Something happened and they were afraid. That’s the mayor’s story and I believe him when he says he feels that his family was threatened. If he feels his family was threatened and called the police, the question needs to be where were the police?”
“Does any one mayor that’s ever existed in the city of Toronto claim that they haven’t sworn? Does anybody think that any mayor is like this special body that doesn’t react and do things that the rest of society might do under these circumstances?”
Meanwhile, Doug Ford defended his brother.
“He was polite on the first two calls. The second time he gets a different dispatcher and then the third time a dispatcher called back with a little attitude, ‘We’re going to treat you like anyone else’, but Rob never asked for special treatment, and then he says, “This is f---ing ridiculous.
“Should he have sworn? No, he shouldn’t have sworn, but he did not say these things CBC is spinning. I know that for a fact.”
Asked if he had listened to the tape, and how he knew for a fact what was said, Doug Ford repeated: “I know that for a fact. Trust me.”
A source told the Star the woman who fielded the call was “distraught” by the mayor’s language.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he hadn’t spoken to Ford about the 911 call and expressed mixed feelings about the incident.
“The CBC showing up at his house was a little over the top but it is a comedy show, I guess,” Holyday said, declining to say if he thought it was appropriate to call police.
Mike McCormack, head of the Toronto Police Association, told reporters outside city hall none of the 911 dispatchers have filed a complaint over the Ford calls.
He said he is prohibited from discussing the content of 911 calls.
Asked if he was saying his members don’t have an issue with Ford, McCormack nodded and said: “That’s what I’m saying.”
With files from Amy Dempsey, Paul Moloney and Curtis Rush