Mayor Rob Ford and his children Douglas and Stephanie having fun in Florida this week.
TORONTO - A Christmas Day 911 call from Mayor Rob Ford's home alleging the mayor was drunk and trying to take his kids out of the country against his wife's wishes was just plain false, members of the Ford family said Friday.
Information from the 911 call leaked to a newspaper indicated a domestic dispute was taking place and that Ford's mother-in-law called police to report the mayor had been drinking and was taking his children to Florida contrary to what wife Renata wanted.
A call was made to the mayor's office but there was no comment from Ford in the story.
My first call was to a cellphone and the familiar voice on the other end answered on the second ring.
"Happy New Year, Joe," the mayor said jovially from Florida, with his kids laughing in the background.
Turns out Ford had not heard of the media report but said everything was now fine.
"We have had a great couple of days down here," he said of he and his young children Stephanie and Douglas. "There's no problem at all."
His brother Doug, who was with the mayor in Florida and like him, returned home Friday, said "Rob was not drinking as reported. It's just inaccurate."
In fact, a source close to the investigation told me that while alcohol was an issue none was consumed by the mayor.
"You think (the Toronto Police) would have let him leave with his children if he had been drinking?" said the source. "No way."
The source said the mayor was interviewed, as was the caller to 911 and his wife and it was "decided it would be best that he and the kids to continue on with their family vacation."
Ford's wife, who had a plane ticket but expressed being "uncomfortable with travelling," opted to stay at home, said the source.
"It was blown out of proportion," said Doug. "There was minor disagreement and some misunderstandings but it's fine now."
With the children wanting to proceed and the mayor needing the break, Doug said there was a family agreement to forge ahead with the trip.
I asked for and received some pictures of the family vacation, which included shots of the mayor and the kids in the swimming pool.
There have been other well publicized 911 calls to the Ford's Etobicoke home - including 2008 assault charges against then-councillor Rob Ford which were later dropped. At the time authorities felt it best the children remain the custody of the father as well.
Clearly embarrassed Mayor Ford told me: "Look, I think you know a lot of people who have problems behind closed doors."
Doug said his brother loves his wife and as a family they are trying their best to work through personal issues.
It seems like regular family stuff to me. It's never easy being a politician's wife and Christmastime can be very stressful for a lot of families.
There are dozens of domestic calls at Christmas but this one seemed to land on the front page of the very newspaper Ford is feuding with. Last time it was an erroneously leaked report to the left-leaning CBC that Chief Bill Blair told reporters incorrectly quoted Mayor Ford calling dispatchers "bitches."
Who has it in for Ford in the 911 office and will Blair now investigate internally?
It feels like a vicious smear campaign - one where political foes like Councillor Adam Vaughan were already shamefully diving into.
There's nothing funny about domestic calls and it's certain that Toronto Police's family service's people will probe further. So far, whatever the difficulties, police have investigated and determined it is the family's business to work out, they found no evidence of domestic violence as was intimated.
It's a shame this family can't sort out its issues in private since whatever is happening inside the Ford household, is their business to work out themselves.
Meanwhile, there's nothing lower than taking private-life information from someone's policing position and leaking it to a person's political enemies - especially when there are so many nuisances and complications with the history of this situation.
In fact, it's against the Police Act which states "no municipal police officer shall engage in political activity."
But that's big time politics. The bottom line is Mayor Ford's kids are all right and I was told Friday night the family is back together.