Rob Ford laughs off possible charges

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall on March 5, 2014. (Stan Behal/QMI Agency)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at City Hall on March 5, 2014. (Stan Behal/QMI Agency)

Don Peat and Chris Doucette, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:40 AM ET

TORONTO ─ Mayor Rob Ford laughed off the idea Wednesday that he could be charged with anything more than "urinating in the park."

Ford shrugged off the suggestion that he could soon be facing criminal charges now that he's being investigated by some of Toronto's top cops under the supervision of one of the Ontario Provincial Police's best investigators.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced Wednesday that he had given oversight of the investigation into Ford, dubbed Project Brazen 2, to the OPP. Hours later, police told QMI Agency that OPP Det.-Insp. Chris Nicholas -- who led the investigation that collared murderer Russell Williams -- would now be overseeing the case.

The change comes after Ford and his brother Coun. Doug Ford repeatedly slammed Blair and the investigation.

The mayor kept swinging at Blair when he arrived at City Hall around 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

"The damage has already been done," Ford said. "The chief obviously is just playing political games. It should have been done from the very beginning. That's my opinion of it."

Ford shrugged off a question about whether he's worried he's about to be charged.

"Charged for what? Charged for what? What? An empty vodka bottle? Or urinating in the park? Which one, I'm not quite sure."

He again demanded to know how much money police have spent surveilling him.

"I want that number to come out," he said. "That's just a waste of taxpayers' money."

In a letter to OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis released Wednesday, Blair stressed that Brazen 2 "arose from the Toronto Police Service's year-long Project Traveller, focusing on organized crime, violence, guns and drugs."

"I am taking this step to avoid the distractions that have assumed such recent prominence," Blair wrote. "The only public interest here is the continued investigation, without fear or favour, into evidence of possible criminality."

Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash said the service has seen an "increase in the intensity of personal attacks" and the chief "felt it was necessary to eliminate those distractions."

In the past when he's been asked why the investigation hasn't been turned over to another police service, Pugash has maintained Toronto cops were best suited to handle the case -- despite any perceived conflict of interest -- because it sprang from one of their earlier operations.

"We always err on the side of caution in order to protect the integrity of proceedings," Pugash said.

However, the civilian police spokesman stressed the OPP has agreed to "oversee" not "take over" the investigation.

Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux has been at the helm of Project Brazen 2 since it was launched last summer and he will continue to be the lead investigator, Pugash said.

Giroux and his team will now report to a senior OPP officer, who will ultimately be overseen by the OPP commissioner.

If any decisions need to be made about laying charges, Pugash said Giroux, the OPP officer and the Crown will make those decisions together.

Last Thursday, Ford stood in front of the mayor's office and dared Blair to arrest him.

"If he is going to arrest me, arrest me," Ford told reporters at the time. "I have done nothing wrong and he's wasted millions of dollars."

Ford repeated his frustration with the chief during his interview Monday on U.S. late-night TV with Jimmy Kimmel.

"I just want (Blair) to come clean with the taxpayers," Ford told Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live. "It is all politics."

-- With files from Joe Warmington

don.peat@sunmedia.ca

 

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