Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's office staffers Chris Fickel (left) and Andrew Gillis (centre) - a former quarterback for the University of Toronto’s Varsity Blues football squad - on the football field at Don Bosco in late August. (Michael Peake/QMI Agency)
TORONTO — Mayor Rob Ford won't let his staffers speak to reporters to clarify their roles in the mayor's office and on the football field.
The mayor's office quickly shot down the notion — suggested by Coun. Doug Ford on AM640 Thursday — that the staffers at the centre of the current controversy swirling around the mayor would be brought out to tell their story.
"That will not happen," Ford's press secretary George Christopoulos told QMI Agency Thursday.
In the radio interview, councillor Ford continued his blistering defence of his mayor brother.
"We're going to have to bring the staff out to speak to the media, which we hate doing," Ford said. "They volunteer their time."
Ford vowed the two staffers who help the mayor with his football team would be brought out.
"We'll get these two folks out, they'll clear the air and then I'd like to see what they say after that," he said.
On Wednesday, Mayor Rob Ford refused to make it clear where he draws the line between his taxpayer-funded office, his taxpayer-funded staff and his football teams. Ford ran away from reporters at City Hall and surrounded himself with his football players at his football practice to keep the media away.
A statement released from the mayor's office didn't directly address accusations the mayor has used and is still using his taxpayer-funded staff and the resources of the mayor's office, including cellphones and a city vehicle, to help run his football activities.
Ford's statement urged councillors not to attack his staff and stressed they "put in at least 40 hours of work for taxpayers every week. Often more."
The statement went on to say the mayor is accompanied by one or more staff members at most times to help him in his "official duties."
On the radio Thursday, councillor Ford said the two staffers are volunteering their time with the team.
"Unfortunately, these two young men are giving back their time to these youth and they are getting assassinated along with Rob," Ford said. "What is Rob supposed to do? Is he not supposed to help youth out?"
Ford said if it "was a girl's volleyball team" rather than a football team, the whole issue wouldn't be a problem.
"It's because it is football in high priority neighbourhoods, in Rexdale," he said.
The councillor dismissed complaints from his colleagues about the issue, repeating his belief the controversy is politically motivated.
"It's Rob Ford and they'll do anything to undo this election," Ford said. "They try to make stories up, well they do make stories up."
Ford said Andrew Gillis, a former quarterback for the University of Toronto's Varsity Blues football squad who now works in the mayor's office as a special assistant, is a "super bright person."
"(He) goes in there and helps constituents all day long. He sits at front reception a lot of times so the media sees him, but they want to turn a blind eye to that," Ford said. "And after work, because he loves football, he asked Rob if he could volunteer his time and help out."
The councillor said the mayor's staff will continue "volunteering their time."
"And Rob is going to continue helping kids in priority neighbourhoods," Ford said.