Those close to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford are denying a report in the Toronto Star that alleges that Ford has an alcohol abuse problem and was asked to leave a military fundraiser last month because he was too intoxicated.
A report from Toronto Star city hall reporter Robyn Doolittle and investigative report Kevin Donovan cites numerous unnamed sources who say an intoxicated Ford was asked to leave the Toronto Garrison Ball in February, an annual military black-tie dinner that raises money for the Wounded Warrior charity. Toronto Councillor Paul Ainslie also goes on the record in the story to say that he asked Ford to leave the ball, but he does not comment on why he thought Ford should leave.
The report also quotes former staffers who say they urged Ford to seek treatment for his drinking, but were unsuccessful.
The mayor’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, responded to the report soon after it was published in Tuesday’s paper and online early the same morning.
Speaking on a Toronto talk-radio station, Doug Ford said that his brother didn’t have a drinking problem and that the Toronto Star was making up lies and was trying to bring down the mayor. However, Doug Ford said his brother would not sue the paper for its story: “Johnny, that’s their plan, they want to drag us into another lawsuit and then it’s going to be about Rob Ford suing the Star for the next two years. We have a job to do, we’ve been running the city very efficiently.”
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday also told reporters at City Hall that he has never seen the mayor take a drink. “We do know with Rob Ford there’s a lot of people that are either for him or against him and they feel strongly no matter what side they’re on,” Holyday said. “And some people are prepared to say and do things to him to detract from him being the mayor. We’ve seen this time in, time out.” Former budget chair Mike Del Grande also told The Globe and Mail that he had never seen the mayor drink.
Rob Ford has yet to respond to the allegations in the Star story himself, but he is scheduled to make a public appearance to present boxer George Chuvalo with a key to the city later in the day.
This latest allegation is the second time in less than a month that Ford has been left to deal with public accusations that he has a substance abuse problem. Earlier in the month, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson used her Facebook page to post a picture of herself and Ford at a fundraising event. She went on to make allegations that the mayor had made inappropriate comments towards her and groped her while he appeared to be intoxicated.