Police Chief Bill Blair accepts apology from Doug Ford for 'tirade'
Chief denies any war of words with Toronto city councillor
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said he has accepted an apology from Coun. Doug Ford, and won't proceed with his threat of a defamation suit in a dispute that centred on Ford accusing Blair of leaking information about Mayor Rob Ford to the media.
Blair had sent Doug Ford a notice of defamation with a list of conditions, which included an unqualified apology, in writing, and an accompanying charitable donation, after the mayor's brother claimed the chief engaged in an act of revenge.
"Lies that go to the heart of your integrity cannot be tolerated," Blair said at a news conference Thursday to announce he had accepted Ford's apology. "They can never be part of an acceptable public dialogue. The law does not protect lies or the people who tell them. They must be held accountable."
Ford apologized Wednesday, but Blair did not accept it immediately. Blair called the apology "neither clear nor unequivocal."
"It was important to me to get a retraction in writing so there could be no confusion among those that hear or read about Mr. Ford's false statements," said the chief.
Ford wrote a full apology and made a $1,000 donation to Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth in Toronto. (Read the full apology below.)
Toronto police detectives were set to serve Mayor Ford with a subpoena in the case of his friend Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, who is accused of extortion and drug dealing. Doug Ford called the subpoena "payback" and accused the chief of leaking the information about it to the media. He again said the chief needed to go.
Blair said he did not leak the information, and after investigating the charge, he found that no one in the Toronto Police Service gave the information directly to a reporter.
First comments since decision not to renew contract
It was the first time Blair has spoken publicly since the police board rendered its decision not to renew his contract as police chief.
Blair said he respects the board's decision.
"I had hoped to be renewed. And I wasn't," said Blair. "I'm not going to comment further."
Blair would not go into why he was not being asked to continue as chief. Some speculate the decision had something to do with his rocky relationship with the Fords.
Blair would not muse about his fortunes after April 25, 2015, his last day on the job.
He did, however, rule out a political future. "Frankly, I have no aspirations for that. I'm a cop," he said.
No 'war of words,' Blair says
The police chief also denied he is in a "war of words" with Doug Ford.
"I have tried to avoid being dragged down into what has been called a war of words," he said.
"I would suggest to you that I've been rather circumspect. There was quite a tirade of false statements made about me on Aug. 5. My response was 12 words long. It's hardly a war of words."
Blair was referencing the statement that Ford was lying and he would take legal action. Ford stood by his comments and the chief served him notice of defamation a week later.
Blair and the Fords have been in a back-and-forth since the chief commented on the mayor's involvement with Project Brazen — a drugs and gangs investigation that led to the recovery of a video of Rob Ford smoking crack.
Blair, at the time, said seeing the images of the mayor smoking crack left him "disappointed."
Doug Ford repeatedly called for Blair to resign after details of the investigation emerged. The mayor himself disparaged Blair after Rob Ford was seen drinking in a video surreptitiously recorded at a fast-food restaurant in suburban Etobicoke.
Blair's contract as police chief has not been renewed. He will leave the post in April 2015.
Doug Ford has said he is not running for re-election and will ostensibly leave office after the current term is up. He's spending much of his time helping his brother in his bid for re-election.