Some organizers of a military gala are disputing a newspaper report claiming Mayor Rob Ford was asked to leave the event last month because he appeared to be impaired.
The Toronto Star published a story on Tuesday claiming Ford showed up late and apparently intoxicated to the Garrison Ball, held Feb. 23 at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place. The event celebrates the Canadian Forces and raises funds for the Wounded Warriors charity. The paper claims the mayor was asked to leave.
Coun. Paul Ainslie, a member of the mayor’s executive committee and a Garrison Ball organizer, is quoted in the controversial story as saying he urged Ford’s chief of staff to “have the mayor leave the event.”
Six of 13 Garrison Ball organizers issued an open letter disputing the Star’s and Ainslie’s version of events. In it, they claim they didn’t ask Ford to leave, nor did Ainslie.
“As a civilian member of the volunteer organizing committee of the 2013 Toronto Garrison Ball, I can confirm that I did not ask Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto, to leave the event on February 23, 2013 for any reason,” the statement said.
“To my knowledge, no member of the event’s organizing committee, including Councillor Paul Ainslie, directed the Mayor to leave the event that night.”
Coun. Doug Ford told CityNews the allegations against his brother are false and that the mayor doesn’t drink at public events.
“I don’t see him drink. He’s at events – he doesn’t drink. I’m not saying Rob’s never drank before but he doesn’t drink at public events,” he said.
In its story, the Star cited six unnamed sources who said Ford appeared to be intoxicated at the event. The paper didn’t publish the sources’ identities because they feared losing their jobs and political retribution.
The Star article states Mayor Ford’s alleged problems with alcohol are an “open secret” at city hall.
Ford has denied the paper’s claim that he has a drinking problem, calling the report an “outright lie.”
Meanwhile, some councillors are calling on the mayor to “come clean” and seek help.
“Many of us have witnessed what the Toronto Star reported,” Coun. Joe Mihevc told 680News on Wednesday morning, but wouldn’t give specifics.
“I have, frankly, a concern for both the mayor and the city,” he said. “There are enough stories out there … I think he needs to reckon with himself.”
“On the political level I think we need to get on with this sideshow so we can deal with the issues that are besetting our city,” Mihevc said, citing upcoming casino, transportation and social housing debate.
When asked about those comments, Coun. Ford said Mihevc isn’t social with his brother.
“He’s never gone out with Rob once. He’s not around Rob,” he said. “The people who are around him, the deputy mayor and the former budget chief Mike Del Grande – they’ve been around him.”
Click below to listen to the interview with Mihevc.
[Download] (To download: Right click -> Save as)
With files from John Stall/680News