Margaret Atwood, seen in 2006, asked people to sign an online petition aimed at preventing cuts to Toronto libraries. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press) )

Coun. Doug Ford has dismissed Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood's attempts to save the Toronto Public Library system from future budget cuts.

"If she walked by me, I wouldn't have a clue who she is," Ford was quoted as saying on Tuesday, referring to one of the most celebrated literary personalities in the country.

Atwood, a world-renowned novelist, poet and essayist, has urged Torontonians to sign an online petition to save Toronto's 99 libraries. The petition asked city council not to follow the recommendations in a consultant's report to close some of the libraries as a cost-saving measure.

Atwood sent the message after Ford — the older brother of Mayor Rob Ford — said that his Etobicoke riding has more libraries than Tim Hortons outlets.

According to published reports, Ford said, "Well good luck to Margaret Atwood. I don't even know her. If she walked by me, I wouldn't have a clue who she is."

Ford said if Atwood ran for office and got elected, then he would "sit down and listen to her." 

In another development Tuesday, the mayor responded to accusations that he gave the finger to a woman in downtown Toronto last week, after she accosted him for allegedly talking on his cellphone while driving.

"A story published that while I was on the phone I made a rude gesture to a fellow driver is not accurate. This is a misunderstanding," Ford tweeted.