Toronto Mayor testifies at libel trial he bashed cafe deal

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves the Canada Life building in Toronto where he will take the stand in the libel case against him, Nov. 16, 2012.

Credits: Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency


TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted comments he made during a Toronto Sun editorial board meeting referring to "corruption and skulduggery" was a reference to the Boardwalk Cafe's lease with the city.

Ford took the witness stand Friday during his $6-million libel trial.

Restaurateur George Foulidis is suing the mayor for his comments made in the August 2010 editorial board meeting where Ford denounced a sole-sourced agreement that city council awarded Foulidis' company, Tuggs Inc., to operate the Boardwalk Cafe for 20 years.

"I can't pinpoint it, but even to this day people still say the deal stinks to high heaven,” Ford said on the stand.

An audio recording of the editorial board meeting was played in court. On it, Ford is asked by a columnist if he could undo "the Foulidis deal."

"Absolutely. It's in camera obviously, it's confidential. I wish that you guys knew what happened in camera — which a lot of you do, obviously," Ford is heard saying.

"But, these in-camera meetings, there is more corruption and skulduggery going on in there than I've ever seen in my life. And if Tuggs isn't, 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 a Tuggs deal?"

When Foulidis' lawyer Brian Shiller asked the mayor for clarity on whether his comments on corruption were specific to Tuggs, Ford appearing frustrated, told him he had already answered the question.

Justice John Macdonald asked the mayor to provide a clearer response.

"The answer is: Yes, Tuggs is an example of corruption and skulduggery," Shiller pressed.

"Yes," Ford eventually replied.

Ford testified he has no recollection that what was discussed in the meeting was on the record and "was never told one way or the other.”

Toronto Sun editor-in-chief James Wallace said every editorial board is on the record.

"Mr. Ford was informed his comments would be on the record at the beginning of that editorial board," Wallace said Friday following Ford's comments in court.

"He was also informed if he wanted to go off the record to let us know in advance of any statement and we would turn off our tape recorders."

"For our part, there is no question the remarks Mayor Ford made during that editorial board meeting with us were on the record," he said.

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled Monday.

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