Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)
TORONTO — A lawyer representing Rob Ford says the Toronto mayor did not make the comments at the heart of the a $6-million libel lawsuit.
Ford slammed a sole-sourced contract awarded to George Foulidis, owner of Tuggs Inc., which operates the Boardwalk Cafe, in an editorial meeting with the Toronto Sun during in 2010.
Lawyer Gavin Tighe said Ford does not recall making the comment and there is no evidence to suggest the contrary.
"What did Mr. Ford say to the Toronto Sun editorial board?" Tighe said. "We don't really know because if there was a recording we don't have it."
Ford told the Toronto Sun the Tuggs deal smacks of "corruption."
Tighe said that Sun reporter Jonathan Jenkins, who wrote the story at the centre of the lawsuit, did not keep a recording he made of the meeting and did not provide his notes.
What Tighe does have, which has been entered into evidence, is an e-mail sent to Foulidis which paraphrases Ford's comments and asking for comment.
The distinction is important, he said during his opening statement at the Canada Life building courthouse Tuesday.
"Mr. Ford's position is he never said them," he said. "Mr. Jenkins' (e-mail) appears to agree with that."
And while Jenkins is expected to testify in the four-day trial, the Sun has not been named in the lawsuit, which speaks to the motivation behind the legal action, Tighe said.
"What makes this confusing is, it's a rare libel case where the paper is not a party."
Brian Shiller, the lawyer for Foulidis, dismissed the notion that the lawsuit was filed for political reason.
Foulidis is not out to get the mayor, but instead wants compensation for the damage done to his reputation, he said.
"The damage caused to him was extensive and malicious," Shiller said during his opening statement.
Foulidis himself took the stand Monday afternoon talking about the lawsuit and the damage done to his reputation as the sole-sourced deal became election trail fodder in 2010.
"To this day, I just get the feeling I can't negotiate things (with the city) the way I used to," he said.
Ford sat quietly through the day's testimony and is not expected to take the stand until Friday. The mayor has a commitment, believed to be football coaching duties, that will keep him from testifying Thursday.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. The case is expected to continue Wednesday.
Transcript from Toronto Sun editorial board meeting
In August 2010, then mayoral-candidate Rob Ford and his brother and candidate for council, Doug Ford, held a wide-ranging editorial board metting with the Toronto Sun — now material in libel suit against the mayor.
The video record of that editorial board was misplaced in subsequent months. However, the Toronto Sun received an audio recording of the interview Tuesday afternoon from a former staff member. The following includes excerpts from that interview:
SUN: There are a number of things being rammed through the next council meeting. You know I've written about the Foulidis contract. There are a number of other things ... is it possible for you to undo any of this stuff after the fact?
ROB FORD: It's in camera obviously, it's a confidential... I wish that you guys knew what happened in camera, which a lot of you do, obviously. But these in-camera meetings, there's more corruption and skullduggery going in there than I've ever seen in my life.
I don't know what it is.
And I can't accuse anyone or I can't pinpoint it, but why do we have to go in camera on the Tuggs deal?
DOUG FORD: There's a culture of corruption down there and we're going to put an end to it.
ROB FORD: I wish I could tell you the stuff that's happened behind closed doors.
(The discussion shifts to another topic then returns to the issue of accountability)
ROB FORD: A lot of these issues don't have to go in camera.
And if that Tugg's deal doesn't stink to high heaven, I, I ...
SUN: So how do you undo it without it costing ...?
ROB FORD: Well, I've never had to look at it. And you know what, if it's going to save millions in the long run then I'm going to undo it.
If it's going to be a short-term cost for a long-term gain, then that's what's going to happen.
DOUG FORD: The system's broken. From Chicago, you know, or anywhere in the States, they'd be in front of a Grand Jury, they'd be indicted and they'd be in jail right now. That's why I always believe politicians should have two terms just like Chicago and Detroit. And I'll tell you what, the first term, you know you're in office, the second term you're in jail.
ROB FORD: What happened to politicians in the MFP inquiry? You bring in the police and you charge them and they go to jail. And if a couple of politicians, if they went to jail ...
DOUG FORD: (Suggests anyone in a corporation who signed an untendered 10-year contract without telling the CEO would be fired.)
He'd be gone in 10 seconds. What are you doing signing a 10-year contract?
What are you doing signing a 10-year contract? It's unheard of, how about a 20-year untendered bid at a lower cost. And then you find out the owner's contributing to the guys who were voting for him.
ROB FORD: Yeah.
DOUG FORD: That's corruption, plain and simple.
ROB FORD: That's illegal. They (ought to) call the police and investigate that.
DOUG FORD: And they're sending workers to go up there and help all these characters out. And they think it's fine. That's the culture of corruption that's got to stop.
ROB FORD: There's no penalties, that's the problem. No one's gone to jail and until they do, then the corruption won't end. And if you don't think there's corruption at city hall ... well.