Rob Ford and Sarah Thomson: What we know and what we don't know -

Rob Ford and Sarah Thomson: What we know and what we don’t know

Sorting through the latest imbroglio involving Toronto’s mayor


We do not know for sure whether the Mayor of Toronto grabbed one of his female opponents’ behinds at a gala function this week, nor whether he suggested that she should have been with him in Florida on account of his wife being gone. Nor do we know if the mayor is being truthful in his categorical refusals.

When allegations like these erupt, knowing things with any certainty is at a premium. The alleged placement of Rob Ford’s fingers on Sarah Thomson’s body are now the kind of thing that radio hosts are parsing through in detail, as if waiting for a Zapruder tape to emerge. It doesn’t seem that one will.

So let’s talk about what we do know.

Here is one thing I know: This kind of thing happens to women in politics. It’s not news; it’s not scandal; it’s more like background radiation, which many of the women in politics I know deal with as a deadening cost of doing business in that environment.

“When I heard what Ford said about the vacation, my very first thought was, ‘I have heard almost that exact kind of statement more times than I can remember,’” a political staffer on Parliament Hill wrote to me today.

“Ass-grabbing, suggestive glances, sexual innuendo, comments about clothing – it’s all treated pretty nonchalantly, both inside the workplace, and also at hybrid social-professional events,” she said. She described an MP who messages her in meetings they attend together, commenting on her appearance and asking to see her outside of work, to her immense discomfort.

Others tell of hands slipped into hands, hands on hips, hands on thighs, fingers in bellies, enquiries about underwear, enquiries about sex lives; and always, a decision between pushing back or letting it slide. The problem isn’t just the garden-variety lechers: It’s the assuredly “nice guys” who keep their hands to themselves but introduce themselves by asking about boyfriends, or insert themselves into women’s personal lives with solicitousness, pestering and favours.

Is harassment worse in politics than in other fields? Maybe not (another former staffer told me she’d had a worse time in finance, for instance). Does it incriminate Rob Ford by association? Not at all. But it’s the world that both he and Sarah Thomson inhabit.

Here’s the second thing we know: How Thomson’s complaint was received. Inevitably, the complainant became the target.

Let’s first say that if Ford has lied to cover his failings too many times to be given any credit, Thomson isn’t beyond skepticism either. She’s presented her share of contradictions. She lamented the media circus while appearing on nearly every radio and television outlet in town. As she herself tells it, she followed up on Ford’s alleged lewdness by acceding to a mind-boggling plan in which her assistant would pose with Ford to see if any groping could be photographed. (I find this so weird and ill-advised as to actually be credible.) She decided to try this case in the court of public opinion, and public opinion has every right to feel conflicted about this.

But this weirdness wasn’t the nub of the attacks on her. To listen to her critics, her sin was going public in the first place. On talk radio, the hosts of the John Oakley and Jim Richards shows were busy wondering why Thomson didn’t go to police and press charges if Ford laid a finger on her, as if they wouldn’t be screaming “overreaction” if she had done just that. Their callers, as always, were grimly edifying.

“How convenient is this? Sarah Thomson is leveraging the social media and mainstream media to draw attention to her women’s publication on International Women’s Day,” said Mark.

“Big girls keep their mouth shut,” said John, another caller.

“Her colloquialism she used towards her own anatomy was pretty lowbrow for a person who’s considered to be some sort of professional in this town,” said Mike, who disapproved of the word “ass.” Later: “I just wonder about some of the people that try to assume office in this city.”

“Listen, what a joke,” said Bernie. “C’mon, we’ve had a couple pops here and there and if he was feeling good and having a good time – which he should because, y’know what? He’s got a lot of responsibility taking care of the city – and he wants to undo his tie, and if he kinda got a little tipsy or whatever you may wanna call it, no problem.”

If a woman takes an assault seriously, said Christie Blatchford, she should call the police. “If you don’t take it seriously, and you’re not mortally wounded, then you shut up and you deal with it privately,” she spat at Jim Richards. “What happened to that?”

“Just to confirm,” said John Tory, when Thomson finally come round to his show, “that you’d be willing to go to any place that’s agreeable to the mayor… and take a lie detector test?”

To recap, then: Sarah Thomson should have let it go because the mayor is entitled to relax, should have reacted immediately, should not have been ambitious, should have dealt with it privately, should have pitched a fit, should have said nothing, should have called police, and above all should not have said “ass.” Clear?

So I will tell you what I know with confidence. Women in politics have to deal with an appalling amount of garbage. Regardless of what Rob Ford did or didn’t do, it’s safe to say that at this moment, another mayor, or senator, or MP, or senior staffer, or riding association president, or student leader, or blithely bellicose volunteer is busy making a young woman squirm. And if that woman does not deal with said garbage in the exact right way—a way so bizarrely proscribed I’m not sure it even exists—then her honesty, motives, ambitions, maturity and gender itself will get called into question.

I am willing to take Sarah Thomson at her word. But Rob Ford, as ever, is not the real problem.


Rob Ford and Sarah Thomson: What we know and what we don’t know

  1. The more agency a woman is perceived to have, the greater the skepticism when she claims harassment or assault. This is why young girls in high school are “taken advantage of,” but young girls in university are “asking for it.” Also why the culture of rape is so prevalent in business, military, and political organizations. Why a police officer and Krista Ford are comfortable prescribing the rape prevention tactic of “Don’t dress like a slut.”

    Our “socially progressive” Canada is not immune.

    • What are you talking about? This has nothing to do with the culture of rape. It has to do with someone who should have gone to the police first. Why is she visiting every single media outlet possible? I doubt it has anything to do with fighting against the subversive culture of sexual aggression by men. Wake up. Also, what would you know about the high school/university differences for women? Did you live through it? No. You speak as if she is a victim without any knowledge of what actually happened. Tuck your cape away for the verdict.

      • Funny how someone who didn’t “live through it” isn’t allowed to have an opinion, but you are.

        • Funny how nobody ever said anythin about having an opinion, except you. I just think the opinion is gathered from lack of experience.

      • Press first, cops second does zero for the credibility of Ms.Thomson

        • What Ivor hasn’t acknowledged, and has failed to mention, is that there was an eyewitness account -available since Friday.
          This is not a “she said, he said” as the left would have us believe. For that, the location would have to have been more exclusive, devoid of on-lookers. Then Sarah could have used that “my word against his” line. But no one, save her co-conspirator (Sarah2) has come out in favour of her side. And other independent witnesses of some of Thursday’s antics are now being “discredited” by the 2 Sarah’s.
          But another dis-interested party, someone with no axe to grind against Ford or Thomson, came forward Friday and not only was interviewed by the media, but gave a written statement.
          He was “right there” and says it never happened!
          Google Citynews and Falkenstein and you can watch his interview.
          He even indicates that Thomson had 2 pictures taken with the Mayor at the time, because she didn’t like the first one – a detail she has not previously mentioned. So, in her story, did the Mayor grope her during the second photo? or did he do it during the first? Then why stick around for a second?
          Her story has more holes than a doughnut factory!

    • Regardless of how freaked out people get, ‘Don’t dress like a slut’ is good advice under any circumstances. Unless of course you are one.

  2. Sarah Thompson lost me when she hatched the ‘sting’ plan. It seems like she can live with the personal indignity if she can leverage it into political advantage.

    • The personal indignity you inadvertently offer up as a choice of hers, to live with or not?

      Chalk up another thing she could have, should have, shouldn’t have, wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, would have or otherwise done if her complaint were legitimate.

      Even a poor response to an assault isn’t fair grounds for such dismissal for that is beyond skepticism. Ivor’s take on that aspect, A+, your own, D-.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • dick, I think you’re really Doug Ford!

    • Maybe she wanted to get proof because she thought no one would believe her otherwise. Or maybe she was angry and wanted revenge.

      You were happy with her when she was merely the victim, with nothing but her word against his, but then she “lost you” when she tried to take action to be less of a victim.

      Typical. Much too typical.

    • Agreed. If the police did it, it would be called “entrapment”. She shouldn’t have been standing there smiling, she should have slapped him, or yelled at him. Handle it on the spot, don’t put up with it, and pass that along to other women.

  3. And these are the people who make up our government?!

  4. Good read Ivor, thanks.

    This rank incident however, has consumed far too much of our energy and contemplation since yesterday. Both the alleged victim and Perp need to “drag the belly along” to some far off place preferrably…(nasty, sorry)

    Some of us missed or opted out of happy little luncheons and discussions with Media staff yesterday to celebrate “our day” to speak..

  5. It’s not even that women (and men) don’t sometimes flirt in the process of news gathering. It’s just that the notion of sexy young reporters turning tricks for tips is not how news is usually made in the nation’s capital. For every Judith Miller, the ex–New York Times reporter who would sometimes quote
    her live-in lover, former Representative and Defense Secretary Les
    Aspin, there are dozens of female journalists for whom the power of
    appropriations is not an aphrodisiac. We have not “all done it,” as
    Skorsky claims. And yet, the reporter-seductress stereotype persists, in part because some men in Washington refuse to relinquish it.

  6. Alleging sexual harassment during International Women’s Day without witnesses and police report, resorting to public trial, insinuating drug use, plus posting embarrassing photo of Rob Ford is convenient and shows all signs of dirty liberal tactic.

    • So basically, women in politics should have a camera man behind them at all times to catch any unwanted sexual advances? Perhaps you should consider that a man who goes to grope someone might take a look around first to see if someone’s looking. I have no idea what happened here, and neither do you. Ford has lied in public before to get out of legal troubles (hockey game, florida), so it is not like his credibility is spotless either.

      • Ephena, the guy is probably the most watched person in Toronto for years now. And the best thing you have on him is he may have lied about a hockey game in Florida? Or, maybe, he used inappropriate paper for sending out messages!

        If someone watched me or anyone I knew for years, and that was the “bad thing” they remembered, I’d nearly be up for canonization.

        Canadian political scandals are so boring.

        • Not might have, definitely did. Not Florida, Toronto. And since you seem to be ignorant of this story, let’s be specific: he told a woman, whose husband was asking him to quiet down, that she should go back to Iran and be raped.

          Toronto’s mayor said that. And lied about it. And got caught. And then finally admitted that he had lied.

          And we’re supposed to believe he would never make a sexual comment or grab an ass? Please.

          • He’s got his own problem, true; but Torontonians voted him for his straight-talk and straight-forward policies; the liberal losers can’t bear to see the mayor as fat and unmannered, and doesn’t like free-range tofu burger, which are very un-liberal.

          • You do realize that just because somebody got voted into office doesn’t give them a free pass to do or say whatever they want, right? That being a good person, having to tell the truth, having to act ethically, these requirements for entrance into the ‘decent human being’ club do not simply disappear when you ascend into office, and that people need to be held accountable for their actions, whatever their place in society? It’s people like you who allow dictatorships to flourish.

          • You read too much Toronto Star.

        • 2006 – Ford, drunk at a hockey game, is thrown out after being verbally abusive towards other fans. When confronted, he lies about even being there:

          2010 – When asked about his 1999 arrest in Florida, he lied about it, until confronted with the arrest record:

          There’s no doubt he has a history of lying. It’s why this story is this messy.

        • He lied about getting into a drunken altercation at the ACC. He lied about calling Andy Byford to take care of his football team. He lied about not cutting services. He lied about increasing user fees. He lied about hiring cops. He lied about the Tuggs deal. He lied on the stand during his conflict-of-interest trial. He lied about the amount of the city budget that goes to wages. He lied about cutting the budget. He lied about the number of libraries in the city. He lied about property tax increases. And those are just the things that come to mind immediately.

          • He is flawed but he is a good mayor and Torontonians are happy about his policies. I bet he’ll get another term. That’s what makes lefties like you die of envy.

          • I’m no lefty and resent being pigeon-holed that way when the issue is not about ideology at all – it’s about having a mayor who has more than half a wit and can use it.

          • What about the dirty tricks thrown at him? It’s unfair for Torontonians when the mayor they voted for kept getting harassed by the liberals losers and flagship, The Toronto Star. The man’s got a big job to handle, and the left kept using dirty tricks to oust him, all because he is fat, instead of patiently waiting for the next election to do it the legitimate way — through ballots.

          • It’s not because he’s fat. It’s because he’s an idiot.

          • I feel your pain. If you lost to an idiot, what does that makes you?

          • So lying to the people of Toronto is considered something that a “good mayor” does?

            Well, I suppose that goes a long way to explaining why the rest of Canada feels like they do about Toronto.

          • The lying idiot is loved by Torontonians; get over it.

          • Get over it? Get over what?

            It’s not my city, and if you guys are happy with the rep that comes from favoring somebody who lies to you, enjoy it.

            Just don’t bitch when you hear people don’t trust you.

          • Haha, so you’re not from here. What is your business with our mayor then, busy body? We bitch when there are bitches like you that can’t keep their flaps about our business. Go away.

          • YOU are thepathological liar Jack! Just because you post all these lies about Ford, doesn’t make them true! Maybe you are the one who put Thomson up to this?

        • Mayor Ford has turned lying, whining and making lame excuses for thoughtless behaviour into a way of life. That’s why he’s been embroiled in repeated scandals and legal action. All Mayor Ford’s s**t started with Mayor Ford’s s**t.

          • He’s embroiled in repeated scandals because the leftists just can’t bear to see him still up and running after throwing at him much dirt he does not deserve.

          • Yeah, lefties forced him to get drunk at the ACC. Lefties forced him to forget about MJ in his pocket in Florida. Lefties forced him to cheat on his election expenses. I thought the right was all about personal responsibility.

          • z z z z ….

      • This is 2013, women are heard, in fact overheard. Provisions to protect women are sometimes abused by a few that makes the original purpose defeats itself. Men are victimized too.

        • Not being allowed to continue to victimize women does not mean that men are being victimized.

          • True, but those are not the cases I was referring too. Just go to a city court and see how many trumped up charges men get from women in a day. The number is staggering.

      • no, perhaps woman in any profession, let alone politics, should stop, and call out for help immediately, rather than wait, conspire and try dirty political tricks in order to vilify a man…If he grabbed my ass, I’d belt him right there…let alone scream bloody murder…one has to wonder why she didn’t….and, if he did actually do it and she was not sensible to do anything about it the *right* way….report it, etc.. then I’m not sure what you want us to care about. I mean if a person is going to jump off a bridge, I will try to talk them down…but I can not stop them from being stupid…they need to wake up, or they let themselves and us other woman down.

      • I think the first reaction to someone grabbing your ass would be to say something or make some kind of noise and also move ahead then look back.

      • Of course a woman does not need to bring a camera, in this case the camera was already there

  7. I think you mean “Rob Ford… is not the only problem”. These allegations, if true, suggest that Rob Ford is indeed a problem on sexual harassment and touching.

  8. I so wish both of them would take a lie detector test. IF and that is a big IF ST lied, then she did a huge disservice to all women and a lie like this could destroy not only a political career but a personal home life as well.

    • You’ve been watching too much Dr. Phil. Lie detector tests are inadmissible in court because they are unreliable and not probative of anything.

  9. Bravo. Exactly right that the incident’s real importance is it’s underscoring of the obstacles all women face when they’re open about the crap they endure.

  10. While I do not know who is telling the truth here, I believe that the truth lies somewhere between both sides’ stories. What I do know is that lie detector tests are unreliable and very easy to cheat if you know what you are doing.

    • particularly if you are a dishonest sociopath – like Sarah is.

      • That’s quite an allegation to make. I suppose you have proof? Or is that just an attempt to discredit her because you prefer the politics of an incompetent buffoon?

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Yes, god forbid we judge people by their *behaviour*! I suppose you judge people based on your own projection of what you want them to do or be? That makes sense.

          • Leftists like to be goody-goodies when people are around; anybody who does not conform to Victorian codes are ostracized. Why not tell that to Sarah?

        • they have as much proof as Thomson…which basically means we should just put this whole thing out to pasture and get on with our lives….oh how the sheeple like to wage war over stupid things.

  11. x

    • It’s impressive that Ivor has found such a professionally expedient time to recognize that sexism exists. It’s too bad he chose to write a lazy article smothered with unnamed sources that sounds more like facebook gossip than actual reporting because this is a big topic

      No studies indicating this is a phenomenon trending a certain way? No experts focused on the issue? No history or context as would benefit someone actually interested in the underlying issue? Nope, easier to BBM your bestie and hear her say “OMG, all these guys hit on me non-stop” and then write “isn’t it so vile that powerful men always seem to hit on women? By the way, Rob Ford ….”

      But, I guess this is what sells magazines and gets hits. It got me here.

      Despite this tawdry tripe masquerading as journalism, Ivor Tossell, as ever, is not the real problem.

      • truthdotell, jack.. If you think that online comments are going to help the mayor’s position, on this or any issue, you’re sorely mistaken.

        A better idea would be to go to the man himself, and tell him to hire better staff.. or listen to the ones he has. Perhaps they could keep him from getting in trouble time and time again.

        • but this is thomsons trouble, she included ford and im sure rob fords kids are going to love the reception they get when they go back to school on monday,none of you have thought about what this could do to his children, lets just get ford at all cost

  12. This comment was deleted.

    • What is an “over ambitious woman”? The inference is that ANY ambition in a woman is automatically over the top. The little woman should know her place…Would you ever say that a man is “over ambitious”?

      The author is writing an opinion piece, not a research paper or information piece. He references things that have been shared with him in his broad contact with political people. He talks about “many of the women” he knows.

      As for allegations about the reaction to ST. He quotes verbatim the comments of ST’s detractors. These quotations are public domain and can be checked.

      His summary expresses his opinion about the reaction to ST’s story – not about RF’s possible guilt.

      Your obvious bias disqualifies your comment because it has blinded you to the subtleties of the writing. You missed the point, and in fact jumped on the very bandwagon the author was bemoaning.

      • many of the women i know would have said some thing right then and there if not out right slapped the offending person not run to the social media and post a most unflattering pic of the mayor, and say he was out of it,one thing your boy doesnt mention in his opinion is that most sexual harassers have a long history of that kind of behaviour,and as much as you would love that, ford does not have a history of harassment

  13. This comment was deleted.

    • how about C.> Rob Ford grabbed her ass and shes angry about it?

    • Ford has a history of drunken loutishness and disrespect for his political opponents, remember?

      • He’s a good mayor, but has a very un-lefty character that most Torontonians prefer.

        • Lefty: respect for women, not being a drunken lout, being respectful of others, not breaking the law, not lying… I’ll take it!

          • Reading to much Toronto Star?

      • Oh, that means he grabbed her ass for sure.

  14. This article is over the top knee jerk nonsense – exactly the kind of uncritical thinking Sarah counted on when she planned and floated her blatant lie.

    • Just an observation: Your disqus comment thread is almost singularly concerned with the defense of Rob Ford. And electric car hate. As for your assertions about the article by Mr. Tossel, what exactly therein constitutes ‘over the top knee jerk nonsense’? And your ‘published statement’ that Ms. Thomson ‘planned and floated her blatant lie’ is almost certainly libel. So consider that.

  15. I am sure Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler awoke to an enlarged digit on Friday morning! If she did in fact tell a Richmond Hill official about the plan, then the story is over. If not, perhaps there is something to be said. I think it is sad that she right there with Daniel Dale ready at the word to give a social media interview with him right afterward. All of this is created by a puppet master who is working to hurt people. If you ask me, the twisted and sick Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler most likely has his hands on this story too.

      • Oh, that is a credible source.. Thomson’s own rag. Sure.

        • As if there aren’t a handful of news outlets happy to treat Ford as a credible source.

      • FAIL.

  16. Your attempts to equate Mr. Fords record of lying with Ms. thomson’s choice of recourse were in no way the same and should not have appeared in the same paragraph.

    • They both relate to questions about the person’s credibility – Ford has lied, ST’s choice of media is being touted as proof she is lying. It makes perfect sense to group them.

      • But it adds an improper sense of proportionality which the two things simply do not have. Ford has lied many times the instances against Thomson in the paragraph are simply too weak to be comparable.

  17. If there is a witch hunt at city hall, and that is up for debate, then perhaps Mayor Ford would do well not to fly around on a broomstick in a pointy hat. He’s done a lot to make me question his own credibility – hockey game anyone?

    • Now that’s funny!

  18. I remember John Turner publicy grabbing Iona Campagnolo’s ass in the 1980’s. I believe she instantly smacked his ass right back and said something like “Now we are equals”. You would like to think that almost 30 years later, we wouldn’t have to be dealing with this. Sigh.

    • You would think, if this actually happened, she would have reacted in front of those people there. A slap would have well been in order, but instead nothing said until after the fact? If someone grabbed my ass, I’d sure as hell turn around and give them a what for then and there.

      • And if she slapped him, most of you would be howling for an assault charge and jail time.

  19. This comment was deleted.

    • No one has pointed to any lies or inconsistencies in her story, except for people who (a) stand to benefit from defending Ford, or (b) might want to protect their own reputation should they have acted inappropriately towards her (hello, councillor from Richmond Hill..)

      As for her suggestion that it looked like Ford had been drinking.. has no one asked Ford yet why he was being given glass after glass of water? Even Towhey was careful to say that Ford had had nothing to drink except water “at the event.” What about before? Yeesh.

    • Here’s a fact: Sarah Thomson will likely never be mayor. That she wants to be, well, that’s everybody’s dream, right?

      Another fact: That, you, ‘Dick’, haven’t heard Ms. Thomson ‘say one nice thing about him in my life’ is anecdotal twaddle. Worthless. The fact that you published a statement deriding her as ‘a political whore’ is likely actionable. Just so you know.

      Otherwise, good piece, Mr. Tossel.

    • That’s twice now you’ve called her a whore. It’s amazing that women go into public life at all when they have to deal with this kind of sexist crap.

      You’re appropriately named.

  20. What a load of b.s.! Ivor cites the email comments of a Parliament Hill staffer who claims similar things have been said to her as reason for believing Thomson’s side of the story. Ivor doesn’t have one brain cell in his head capable of making critical thought.

    In listing what we know and don’t know he forgets to mention that we now know that there are 3 independent witnesses who were near Ford when the picture was taken who claim that Thomson was lying. We have two Markham councillors who have come forward to reveal that Thomson talked about “setting up” the Mayor. We have the fact that Thomson’s story keeps changing. But none of this should matter because Ivor knows this political staffer in Ottawa and she has MP’s hit on her so Thomson must be telling the truth.

      • yea every male was coming on to the 2sarahs all nite long,so you want us to believe that 2 MPs from richmond hill and another witness are lying and then you point to an article from her own mag as proof every one but her is lying, in every interview she gave that day her story changed

        • I never said she wasn’t lying: I implied that calling her a liar without demonstrating it was ridiculous.

          • some what like calling ford a sexual and substance abuser on facebook and twitter without actual proof

  21. Sadly, this farce has damaged the credibility of sexual abuse victims. Sure Sarah Thompson has her 15 minutes of fame, however, it is at the expense of future victims.

  22. I got an idea! Let’s not vote for either of them next time! Who needs this crap!

    • why is it Fords fault. They keep coming after him. They are the ones who are meddling with democracy. He was elected let him do his job and challenge him at the next election. These demons cant even wait, they want it now, those who tamper with democracy are far more dangerous Ford.

      Actions speak louder then words.

      Ford. eliminated 700 000 from his office budget leads by example……privatized garbage saving millions, cut councel expense. saved 899 000, negotiated with unions without strikes…… helps under privileged kids….. I can go on.

      these cuts are protecting jobs in the future. Debt leads to inflation and higher taxes…If we care about people on fixed income why would we go down a road of out of control debt.

      Basically he is the first politician in my life that is doing what he said he was going to do, what we elected him to do.

      His opponents are the ones bringing politics to a new low.

      • Actions speak louder than words? Okay, then; what does “cut revenues by $70 million, cut services after boldly promising not to, increase property taxes after boldly promising not to – all simply to maintain the balanced budget he’d inherited from his predecessor – do everything possible to derail the growth of the transit system, break the law repeatedly, and leave the city in worse shape than the one he started with” say, then?

      • Yes, ass grabbing is Ford’s democratic right. Why are they going after him? He’s rich. He’s powerful. He’s a man. He’s entitled.

  23. Sara Thomson is lacking public support because she refused to go through the correct channels to handle the alleged offence and instead took to Facebook like some teenager. She spouts about “national independence for women”… What crap… A strong independent woman does the right thing- she goes through the correct channels to right a wrong- she does not take down innocent victims like the Mayor’s wife and children… Did she ever consider them in her Facebook rant?… In my opinion, she’s a disgrace to women

    • She’s a disgrace for complaining about being groped and causing embarrassment to Ford’s family rather than going to the cops with allegations of sexual assault – and somehow not causing that embarrassment? Is that what you’re trying to say?

      • You are denouncing people on here for doing the exact thing to Sara Thompson that Sara Thompson did to Rob Ford. She made an allegation (to the public) with no proof in an attempt to discredit Ford” rather than taking her allegation to the police who would have conducted a thorough investigation into the matter. In doing so, we would have establish if Ford was drunk, if Thompson was drunk and if he kept his hands on her arms and shoulders the entire time the picture was being taken, as some witnesses have suggested. I don’t care how many times a person lies about financial issues or doesn’t fulfill election promises, they are still presumed innocent in the eyes of the law until found guilty. If a true crime has been committed, surely Sara Thompson wants that established through the correct channels.

        • Some witnesses would have to have been behind the wall they were standing up against to see him. And of course Ford was drunk; he’s always drunk at these things, ask anybody who has ever been to any of them, ever. “The correct channels” for an ass-grab are not the police; are you seriously suggesting that somebody should press charges for having their ass grabbed? What a waste of taxpayer money. Publicly calling out the bad behaviour is the right thing to do. Want to bet Ford won’t dare do this ever again?

          • Tell that to hundreds of people that were actually there.

  24. “I am willing to take Sarah Thomson at her word”. Then you’re a fool. Doesn’t the fact that now 3 witnesses have come forward disputing Thompson’s evolving story … including the guy next in line who was standing right there, focussed on the two of them. Find his interview on CTV and tell me Rob Ford hasn’t been slandered by this woman. She deserves every bit of scorn she’s receiving.

    • Three witnesses, all of whom are cronies of Ford and stand to gain politically by defending them, and none of whom were actually in position to hear what was said. Which makes you wonder just what they might have claimed to “witness”.

      • Neither are you and are readily biased against witnesses coming forward, dismissing them as cronies. Typical leftist.

      • Just how was the member of the public who attended the event and was standing in line behind Thomson a “crony” of Ford? And tell me again how he stood “to gain politically”?

  25. This comment was deleted.

    • so let me get this straight, because we dont believe thomson’s lies, we all hate women?? what about the women on here calling her a liar, do they hate women also,what about the few women who are coming on here and telling their stories of abuse and saying that thomson is lieing,they must hate women also.

  26. This ones interesting.

    I don’t think ford a angel by any stretch but she doesn’t appear to be one either.
    She not displaying the behavior of a victim but of that of a predator and the fact her story changes ever time she talks to a media outlet makes me think she less then honest.

    She also go no grounds to stand on complaining about people questioning since it was her that put this out in to public rather then going to the police.

    • That argument cuts both ways. She didn’t go to the legal system with her accusations, but Ford hasn’t gone to the legal system with a libel accusation either.

      • Not in this case its a matter of public record he taking legal action. Add this to the fact there are three witnesses now against her and its clear she in trouble now

        • Can you cite the public record that shows he’s taking legal action? My search only pops up links where she’s the one who is (or should be) considering legal actin.

  27. This comment was deleted.

    • That’s an old excuse. We have progressed so much as a society that women are given voice and protection. Unfortunately, some women abuse that. People who believe otherwise are living in the past.

  28. I was once questioned about sexual battery on a female student . When police investigated they found she has similar complaints against two ex-employers both male, her landlord,, a store owner who refused hef credit and almost any man who disgreed with her. Wonder if Ms.Thomson follows a similar pattern

    • That sounds unlikely. I’m not sure why you’d make these kinds of accusations at this point in time unless it’s just for media exposure. Also, calling sexual assault “sexual battery” is a pretty big mistake.

    • Some women knowing the law that are there to supposedly protect women use it to victimize men. City courts have tons of trumped up charges from women against men. The number is staggering.

  29. Sarah Thomson is no victim. She is predator. Victims do not play political games.

    She was caught on air with many lies, as counselors who were there debunked her story.

    Including that she had one beer only. Not true. She was drinking scotch confirmed by counsel. She will not be able to find a soul to confirm her story as she is now a sinking ship. She is probably right now begging for somebody to confirm her story, which was probably concocted under the influence of alcohol.

    • Councillor Pirelli of Richmond Hill, is that you?

    • Judging from her look and demeanour, she needs help, seriously.

  30. Love all the comments that find a way to blame Sarah Thomson. Proving Tossell’s thesis precisely: that there’s still a culture of entitlement when it comes how some men believe they can treat women. I’ve never been impressed with Thomson & certainly wouldn’t vote for her, but never sensed she’s the type to pull a stunt like some are accusing her of. Ford, on the other hand, has proven he’s ready, willing & able to blatantly lie & behave any way he damn pleases, regardless of regulations, propriety or common sense. So if we’re only talking credibility…

  31. Someone grabs your butt at a party – you stand there and say in a stentorian, basketball-coach voice: “Would you please stop touching me!” That usually does it.

  32. What you should know Ivor, and what you failed to mention, is that there was an eyewitness account .
    This is not a “she said, he said” as the left would have us believe. For that, the location would have to have been more exclusive, devoid of on-lookers. Then Sarah could have used that “my word against his” line. But no one (who was there), save her co-conspirator (Sarah2) has come out in favour of her side. And other independent witnesses of some of Thursday’s antics are now being “discredited” by the 2 Sarah’s – or at least, that is what Sarah and Sarah2 are trying to do.
    But another dis-interested party, someone with no axe to grind against Ford or Thomson, came forward Friday and not only was interviewed by the media, but gave a written statement.
    He was “right there” and says it never happened!
    Google Citynews and Falkenstein and you can watch his interview.
    He even indicates that Thomson had 2 pictures taken with the Mayor at the time, because she didn’t like the first one – a detail she has not previously mentioned. So, in her story, did the Mayor grope her during the second photo? or did he do it during the first? Then why stick around for a second?
    Her story has more holes than a doughnut factory!

  33. “But Rob Ford, as ever, is not the real problem.”? AS EVER?

    I agree, I have no idea what he did or didn’t do in this particular case, but Rob Ford is nothing but problems. Other than taking ALL the credit for the the “solution” to gargage collection in Toronto, as if the other side didn’t participate in the negotiations and settlement of that issue, I can’t think of much that Rob Ford has done as mayor other than create problems that the whole city seems to have to deal with. Well, he did cut the ribbon on that ski lift as well, but how can anybody say Ford is not a real problem.

    Assume the worst about Sarah Thomson, and think what you want about David Miller’s policies, at least Miller never demonstrated the kind of character that would make anyone believe you could discredit him by luring him into some extra marital “ass” play. This is what The Teflon Blob inspires the people of Toronto to think is probable and may well actually be happening.

  34. Nice article……I like the way You, as a journalist….someone who is supposed to hold NO bias while reporting, are basically condemning Rob Ford as guilty with NO proof of guilt!!

    • The only problem is, Torontonians are not that stupid journalists think we are.

  35. Your article does not even touch on what seems to be happening here, which is the very serious issue of false accusations. Those who make up stories conrtradict themselves, those who tell the truth are consistent. It is impossible to defend yourself against an accusation, so we only have Ms. Thompson’s own account to decide if it makes any sense:
    1. She claims that his wife was not in Florida – I guess she should have checked that his wife actually was with him in Florida.
    2. The people she says she talked to: After it happened she talked to the mayor’s “people”, then when witnesses contradicted this, she changed it to “The conservatives, I know these people they are there all the time”, then when asked “Who exactly?” she changed it to “People in general, I don’t know them”.

    3. She characterized the mayor as being “out of it”, and having a “substance abuse problem”, and “We gotta get him outa here, I’ve never seenhim like this!” Witnesses confrim that the mayor was not drinking and that he was perfectly normal. (Also that she never said those things)

    4. When asked what she had to drink, she replied “Cranberry juice – oh, and a beer when I first arrived, that’s all” When confronted with Councilor Pirreli’s account of her (and him) remarking that they were both having scotch, she said “Oh he was wearing sunglasses in a dark room” (It would be interesting to see if he was actually wearing sunglasses in a dark room)

    5. If the mayor had any inclination to this sort of “grabbing”, he likely would have been seen doing it and would have wih other women. We likely would have heard all about it long ago if this were the case.

    As a woman, I am not in favour of attacking any victim of actual assaults, but incidents like this trivialize the issue. The only positive is that we now realize how easily an innocent man can be accused and how it beomes public with no proof other than one person saying it happened. We should worry that our sons and husbands may fall victim unless we look for solid proof before making these damaging accusations public.


    • Perrelli was wearing sunglasses because it was a themed party – Hollywood Glam – by his own admission. He is still adamant Thomson was drinking scotch.
      Thomson indicated on Tory’s show that “her very brave assistant” hatched the plan to “get Ford” – to see if he would grope Sarah2 as well. Perrelli and the other Richmond Hill councillor are adamant that it was Thomson who voiced the plan.
      When Perrelli came out against them, the 2 Sarah’s tried to impeach him by saying he was fairly inebriated and, later in another interview, that he also commented on how great their butts looked – both allegations denied by Perrelli.
      There is an eyewitness account – Google CityNews and Falkenstein and watch it for yourself. He indicates Thomson had not one, but 2 pictures taken with the Mayor and that the Mayor never groped her – see it for yourself.
      Sarah Thomson and Sarah2 hatched a juvenile, high-shool-like, plot that has blown up in their faces.
      If she cannot prove her allegations, Sarah Thomson is a slanderer!

    • Good girl, drinking cranberry juice in a party, ok …

  36. “So let’s talk about what we do know.” Whereupon you immediately launch into innuendo based on the assumption (which you later seem to recant) that what Ford allegedly did is rife in politics (“Here is one thing I know: This kind of thing happens to women in politics.” “…hands slipped into hands, hands on hips, hands on thighs, fingers in bellies, enquiries about underwear, enquiries about sex lives…” “Is harassment worse in politics than in other fields? Maybe not … . Does it incriminate Rob Ford by association? Not at all. But it’s the world that both he and Sarah Thomson inhabit.”). You then list examples of “grimly edifying” opinions called in to radio talk shows by the geniuses who typically inhabit that corner of the airwaves. But do you actually refer to any facts that are known about the incident? No. And those are: 1. that the only independent witnesses to the alleged incident (and no, Sarah Thomson’s employee and personal assistant is not “independent”) state that what has been alleged by Thomson did not occur:;; 2. that Thomson initially included as part of her allegations that Ford was inebriated, only to subsequently withdraw that when it became clear that numerous sources corroborated the fact he had nothing to drink but water; 3. that Thomson alleged Ford said she should have come to Florida because his wife wasn’t there, when it was clear that his wife had so attended and the independent witness recalled that Ford had expressly stated to her that Thomson could have joined “us” there; and 4. according to the independent witnesses, the motive expressed by Thomson for attempting to photograph Ford grabbing his assistant’s ass was that it would help her in the next election campaign, not provide corroboration for an alleged sexual assault. If Ford has been defamed, and it appears from the evidence of the independent witnesses that he has a case, Macleans will be well deserving of a damages award for having published such an irresponsible and recklessly pejorative article.

    • Just because his wife was in Florida doesn’t prove that Ford didn’t say what he said. And in fact, he was in Florida a couple of weeks before that solo.

  37. I am going to vote for Sarah. Oh wait! No I’m not. Nice try dummy.

  38. This story reeks of bias….

  39. This comment was deleted.

    • What’s problem john g, you not persuaded?

      Rob Ford ‘lies’, Thomson has ‘contradictions’ and Torsell deals with your point by deciding accusations against Thomson are ” so weird and ill-advised as to actually be credible”. Torsell can’t write long column about sex harassment and evil mayor if he actually waited to find out all facts, you know.

      Ford not my cup of tea, Thomson seems equally dim and Torsell is just part of usual circle jerk amongst Toronto’s bien pensant.

      And I think women have to deal with low grade sexual harassment in all workplaces, schools, and other institutions because some males don’t know how to handle themselves appropriately. Women should smack man who grabs their ass or does something else inappropriate and that will stop behaviour.

      • Why was my comment above deleted? For pointing out that 2 writers at Maclean’s are ignoring the eyewitness testimony that exonerates Ford(which they are)? For hoping that Ford sues? For suggesting that Sarah Thomson should apologize?

        What in any of the above is grounds for deleting my comment?

        • Ford has not been “exonerated” of anything. There were no witnesses to the conversation and alleged grab.

  40. And if that woman does not deal with said garbage in the exact right
    way—a way so bizarrely proscribed I’m not sure it even exists—then her
    honesty, motives, ambitions, maturity and gender itself will get called
    into question.) so its bizarre to go to the police and report that you have been sexually assaulted instead of facebook and twitter,i mean she at one point thought this might be an assault,so why not go to the cops first, unless you had something to gain by going to the court of public opinion which is what she did because she knew this is the one area in life where the public would jump all over the accused,she got the reaction she was looking for.

  41. The most appropriate action to be taken after the alleged ass-grab would have been for Sarah’s husband to walk over to Mayor Ford and deliver a real Ford-style remedy – a massive punch in the face.

  42. I just remember she posted on her twitter this tweet: .. I think we all know the answer to that question, now. Fool.

  43. Oh god, the poor woman. She’s obviously too traumatized to stop talking. Look, it was a setup. And she’s getting as much mileage out of it as she can. When I look at Sarah Thomson and her dreadlocks (why?), Rob Ford doesn’t seem so hard to look at. Her campaign slogan should be “Don’t Grab My Ass.” Then we might get another controversial, queasy-on-the-eyes mayor of Toronto.

  44. Torontonians are not stupid. Alleging sexual harassment during International Women’s Day is too old of a trick; this is 2013, societies bend backs to accommodate and make up for women’s bad treatment, but some abuse that, that defeats its very purpose. Shame.

  45. This article does not touch on the very serious issue of false accusations and the damage caused. The only evidence we have to go by is Ms. Thompson’s own story, which is full of contradictions:

    1. She claimed that the Mayor had been drinking and was “out of it”, and “I’ve never seen him like this”, and that he must have “a substance abuse problem”. But when witnesses stated that he had not been drinking and that he was perfectly normal she back-paddled.

    2. She then went to talk to the Mayor’s “people”, saying “We gotta get him outa here”. But when witnesses contradicted this, she changed it to “I talked to the conservatives, the ones who are there all the time, I know these people I see them all the time”. But when asked “Who did you speak to? What are their names?”, she changed again to “Oh, just people in general”, and didn’t seem to know them. She is yet to name one person other than her assistant (the other Sarah)

    3. According to her, the Mayor said “You should have come to Florida with me, my wife wasn’t there!” It turns out that his wife was in fact there. Perhaps she should have checked that more carefully before putting that into her story.

    4. When contradicted on what she herself had been drinking (not that it matters what she was drinking, I just don’t trust people who lie about it), she was fast on her feet, though a bit ridiculous: “Oh, he mistook my cranberry juice for scotch because he was wearing sunglasses in a dark room” ??

    5. She was overheard by 2 witnesses that she was planning to take the Mayor down, and that a photo of him with his hand near someone’s back-side would be “useful during the next campaign”. Quick thinking again: “After it happened we decided to go back and catch him doing it again to my assistant”, something she hid from us before being caught by witnesses. Yet she had originally said “After this happened I stayed away from him”. Well which is it? Why not tell the truth in the first place?

    6. Why would someone who was being grabbed in a sensitive area just stand there smiling, no yelp, no reaction of outrage. And if the Mayor made a practice of this sort of thing, I would think someone would see it – and other women would come forward.

    Lastly, it seems a bit too convenient to me that this would happen on International Women’s Day to a woman who hopes to be the next Mayor of Toronto. And that she would post it on a public forum, afraid to go to Police. If she lying is a pathology in this case, she could pass a polygraph test – but I doubt if her assistant would.

    As a woman, I am outraged that Ms. Thompson has trivialized the real issue of sexual assault, but I am also concerned that the men in our lives can fall victim to someone like Ms. Thompson. It could be your husband, your brother or your son next time.


  46. I find this piece really hits the nail on the head. Ivor turns away from the temptation of gossip and addresses the real issue. Too bad there aren’t more “professional” journalists showing the same discipline….

  47. What we do know — this is all about politics.
    What we don’t know — will it help or hurt her political ambitions

  48. “I am willing to take Sarah Thomson at her word”
    Then you’re an idiot with no sense of intuition. Forget the knuckle-dragging gasbags who opine their nonsense on talk radio. What about the word of the half dozen or so credible (since you feel Hizzonor has none) witnesses who rebutted her claims? One whom was right there when said “posterior” grabbing went on? NOOO doubt this stuff happens to women in politics, but to equate her claims against the legitimate ones of those voiced in your column, does those real victims a disservice. Use your head mate.

  49. And another thing…” I thought Mayor Ford was coked out…” Wtf??? This is credibility? I’m anxious to know where the author stands on THIS allegation?

  50. Sorry, Ivor. The opportunistic Ms Thomson doesn’t pass the smell test on this one.

  51. There is no truth to her story, nothing but back peddling coming from her mouth.

  52. Ho Hum another apologist. May I point out that being charged with perpetrating a sexual advance on a woman is also just as damning to the opposite party. Ford is married with a family. Maybe Ms. Thomson should have thought about that. Also accusing him of being drunk and then maybe on coke is another faux pas. Question: how do you know he was on coke? Sarah: Oh, I read the symptoms on the internet. Come on. This lady is trying to make something stick. Can’t get him on a sexual advance? Try claiming he was drunk. Oh, that didn’t work? Let’s move on to cocaine. Her stories get more convoluted and exaggerated as she flounders around in her own web of deceit.

  53. Sarah Thomson admitted to living on streets, says she doesnt ‘remember’ if she used coke herself! Wonder what else she doesnt remember doing on the streets? I know some women do certain things to survive on the streets… I know this because I googled it.

  54. Pretty surprising what Macleans is willing to print. With no evidence on either side, the writer makes it clear whom he thinks is guilty and who is not. I thought that this type of gossip mongering is beneath Macleans. The only two people who truly know what happened are Ford and Thomson. Making assumptions about who is at fault who serves to fuel the fire.

  55. Whenever a woman makes this sort of allegation, take it with a huge helping of salt. They often lie to take out a political or bizness rival, as Thomson tried.

    • b.s.

  56. Look at that picture of Ford – SOBER on WATER?!? Really??? I believe that.. not :) Ford the lying ‘willfully ignorant’ mayor and admitted pot smoker busted for outrageous lies made in public he himself said was a ‘major mistake’? Trustworthy and sober? Do I think he’s capable of acting brashly, lying some more, and smoking some H2O AGAIN lol. Yup. See credibility matters as do patterns of behaviour. Water?? C’mon that’s no water I know. Sarah-sorry these fellow taxpayers don’t understand values count as much as dollars. At least we see the pic of Ford and know the WATER part is clearly false. What else is false from the Ford team on this?

  57. There is a picture of Sarah and Rob together with Sarah’s hands all over Rob. If she did that to my husband, hanging all over him like that – I would be furious!

  58. Good article. Blatchford (and now Levy) aside, it is very annoying when men claim the mantle of arbiter for the “proper” way to complain in order to be taken seriously. And as we see, when the alleged perpetrator is a rich and powerful figure, like Toronto’s mayor, victims of this kind of behaviour are put into a no-win situation. “Where’s the video? Where are 5 male witnesses of good reputation? He didn’t do it but if he did, it’s no big deal.” Make one small mistake in complaining and expect to be further attacked, discredited and humiliated. The Fords of the world know that battalions of like-minded people will come to their defense no matter what they do. Sadly, this is Toronto in 2013. Not a lot has changed.

  59. This is a waste of time discussing things that seem to have no solution. This subject matter will happen over and over again for hundred years from now. Unless we women do retaliate at the right moment. Just like what someone suggested, if he grab your ass, then grab his his ass too or better still his dick and hold it hard. For sure he will make noise and therefore cannot lie. Don’t get me wrong though. I don’t believe Sarah. Ford almost lost his job, so grabbing ass of a previous opponent who is waiting for him to make mistakes will never cross his mind.

  60. So we have the disgust outlined if this harassment occurred. But if it is how the Richmond Hill counselors reported, that is that Sarah Thomson worked to setup Rob Ford for her own political gain, and that the claims he grabbed her, said something sexual to her, and was stoned on cocaine are all false is this something we should just ignore.

  61. Is this the kind of crap they write at McCleans?
    The article has very little to do with the title.
    It’s an obvious attack on Ford while supporting Thomson.
    Has she taken that lie detector test yet?????
    Ok, I just googled Ivor Tossel, & he is writing a book about Ford, all I had to do was read a couple of paragraphs to realize that he does not like Ford!
    Why would McCleans publish such a biased writer??