Rob Ford says he was looking out for the public’s interest when he told a local radio station “I truly believe” someone is getting money under the table in connection to the city’s sole-sourced contract with a Beaches restaurant.
It is on this basis that Toronto’s new mayor has mounted his defence against a $6 million libel lawsuit filed by George Foulidis, owner of the Boardwalk Pub.
Foulidis has accused Ford of exploiting him and his family for political gain.
Gavin Tighe, the lawyer representing Ford, said Foulidis is the one with political motivations.
“Our position is we think this is a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuit. We think this is a lawsuit designed to impede discussion on a public issue. If you look at what Mr. Ford actually said what he said it about, it was a critique of the way city hall is conducting the affairs of the city,” said Tighe.
The defence further claims Foulidis “issued this lawsuit to prevent Rob from being elected as mayor.”
Foulidis filed the $6 million lawsuit two months ago after giving Ford, who was then the front-running candidate, an ultimatum: apologize for suggesting he bribed city officials or face legal consequences.
None of the allegations made by either side have been proven in court.
In 2006, city council went against a staff recommendation and voted to extend the Boardwalk Pub’s lease for 20 years, without opening the contract up to outside bidders. At the time, councillor Sandra Bussin made the argument the family business had done a good job of managing the seasonal restaurant.