Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has admitted in a televised interview that he is not seeing eye to eye with the city’s police chief and he wants to know precisely how much money Toronto investigators spent conducting surveillance on him in recent months.
The interview took place in the mayor’s office at city hall, with former media mogul-turned-TV host Conrad Black asking the questions.
Partway through the interview broadcast Monday night on Vision TV, Black asked the mayor about his relationship with police Chief Bill Blair.
"He [Blair] wasn't happy when I told people to find efficiencies. I think he was quite upset at that," Ford told Black.
Blair publicly revealed at the end of October that his investigators had obtained a video file consistent with media reports that say a video exists showing Ford smoking crack cocaine.
When asked if he was shocked by the contents of the video, Blair said he was "disappointed."
Within days, Ford admitted that he had, in fact, smoked crack cocaine — even though he had denied doing so for months.
Ford told Black that while he has "an issue" with the chief, he supports the city’s "frontline officers."
"I definitely think this is political," said Ford. "I think that they use [Alexander] Lisi as a prop to get to me," he added.
Blair has previously denied such allegations by stating that his job is to investigate "without fear or favour."
Lisi, 35, also known as Sandro, has been called Ford's friend and occasional driver. Lisi was charged in October with trafficking in marijuana, possession of proceeds of crime, possession of marijuana and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Lisi's two criminal cases are both set for Jan. 14 judicial pretrials, which are case conferences between the lawyers and a judge behind closed doors.
Ford also said he would like to know how much money was spent on an investigation that involved officers following him around the city and led to charges against the mayor’s friend.
"Am I happy with the chief? No, I’m not right now," Ford said.
Deputy mayor Norm Kelly later called Ford's characterization of the chief's motives as "regrettable" and "dead wrong".
Ford lashes out at the Toronto Star
Ford also commented about his troubled relationship with the Toronto Star by claiming reporter Daniel Dale was
taking pictures of his children at his home in west-end Toronto in May 2012.
Ford has alleged Dale was spying on him. Dale contends he was on public property doing research for a story about Ford's application to buy from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority a parcel of land adjacent his house.
Dale alleged he was physically threatened by the mayor, a claim Ford later denied.
"I have little kids. When a guy's taking pictures of little kids, I don't want to say that word, but you starting thinking you know, what's this guy all about."
Star editor Michael Cooke told The Canadian Press in an email following the program that this is the latest outrageous statement made by Ford.
"Just when you think Mayor Ford has said the most stupid thing, such as letting the whole world know about his sex life at home, he tops himself with another outrage," wrote Cooke.
"Mr. Ford calling reporter Daniel Dale a pedophile tells you all you need to know about our mayor's brain."`
It should be pointed out that Ford did not use the term "pedophile" during his interview with Black.
Speaking after the interview, deputy mayor Kelly said Dale deserves an apology.
"[Those comments] fit into a pattern that changes the focus from himself to someone else," Kelly said of Ford's suggestion. "It goes beyond the pale."
Ford willing to take drug test
In the same interview, Ford told Black that he would be willing to submit to a drug test.
"If they want me to do a drug test, a urine test, I'll do one right now," Ford told Black.
"If there's any drugs in my system, any alcohol in my system. I have no problem doing that test."
Smiling, Black replied: "Rob, there's absolutely no need to do a urine test right now."
In addition to Ford’s recent crack-use admission, the mayor has also admitted to buying illegal drugs, drinking to excess and he has seen many of his powers taken from him in a city council vote.
Ford's at-times erratic behaviour has also made him the subject of regular ridicule on late-night U.S. talk shows.
The mayor has embarked on a blitz of selective television interviews since the scandal surrounding him caught fire last month.