Rob Ford defends his robocalls about Scarborough councillor

Mayor Rob Ford says he ordered robocalls to east-end Toronto residents in order to make sure they knew their city councillor voted against the subway expansion.

Ford criticizes Coun. Paul Ainslie's objection to Scarborough subway extension

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's robocalls to a Scarborough councillor's constituent Friday night unleashed criticism from other city councillors on social media.

Mayor Rob Ford says he ordered robocalls to east-end Toronto residents in order to make sure they knew their city councillor voted against the subway expansion.

The calls to Scarborough residents criticized Coun. Paul Ainslie for his position on public transit.

Ford, speaking on his Sunday radio show, said he didn’t do anything wrong because he maintains it is his “responsibility to the taxpayers” to make sure they know how their councillors vote.

'I was really offended and shocked by the message.- Scarborough resident Donna Kavanaugh

The calls, however, made to Ainslie’s constituency Friday night unleashed a slew of responses from other city councillors on social media.

Ainslie says members of his constituency were called Friday night with a minute-long recorded message from the mayor, only hours after he had quit the mayor’s cabinet-style committee.

"It was extremely, extremely unfortunate that your councillor, Paul Ainslie, was the only Scarborough councillor who did not listen to his constituents and voted against the Scarborough subway," Ford said in the call.

Ford pointed out that nine of 10 Scarborough councillors supported the motion.

Ainslie had once supported the subway extension but recently he changed his mind in favour of a cheaper light rail line.

Ford questioned the nature of the sudden change, but Ainslie said that he resigned from the committee because he didn't want to be "bullied" by the mayor and told how to vote.

Scarborough resident Donna Kavanaugh said she was “shocked” by the message, despite her generally positive feelings towards Ford.

“I like [Ford]. I don't love him, I do like him. But at the end of the message he was putting down my councillor, Paul Ainslie, who I really do like. So I was really offended and shocked by the message,” Kavanaugh told CBC News.

Reaction among other residents was mixed, some brushing it off as politics as usual while others accused the mayor of trying to bully Coun. Ainslie. 

Neither Ford’s office nor Ainslie’s responded to calls for comment.

Other city councillors expressed their disapproval, however.

'Is he doing calls in my ward now?'

Sarah Doucette, who represents Ward 13 in the west end, said the calls were “appalling.” 

“I do not feel the Mayor should be doing a robocall on a councillor because he voted the way his constituents asked him to vote,” Doucette told CBC News. “Is he doing robocalls on my ward now, because I voted for the LRT?”

On Twitter, Coun. Jaye Robinson called the tactic “harassment” and questioned how Ford paid for the calls.

Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said the matter should be brought to the attention of the province’s integrity commissioner.

Ainslie says he will be making a complaint to the  city's Integrity Commissioner and the CRTC over the robocalls.

But Ford seemed confused by Ainslie’s threat to make complaints.

"What is he going to say to the Integrity Commissioner? Rob Ford told my constituents how I voted? What is wrong with that," he said after earlier reading a list of councillors' names and how they voted," said Ford on his weekly radio show.

"It cost a few hundred dollars to do this. I'm paying for this, folks, personally... out of my own pocket so it's not costing taxpayers a dime."

In a 24 to 20 vote earlier this week, council passed the motion to use a tax hike to fund the extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line from Kennedy Station to Sheppard Avenue.

With files from The Canadian Press


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