Rob Ford denies calling 911 dispatcher names
WARNING: This story contains language some may find offensive
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is denying he directed a derogatory slur at a 911 dispatcher during an emergency call on Monday, but admits he used the "F-word" and apologized for expressing his frustration inappropriately.
"If I offended someone, I apologize. Maybe I shouldn't have used the F-word. I apologize," Ford told reporters in Toronto Thursday afternoon.
"But to say I called the dispatcher a bitch, I never said that ... I identified myself, which you are supposed to do. But I never, you know, used it in a conceited manner. And I was frustrated. And I was very upset that they accosted me in my driveway."
Ford's comments concern 911 calls he made Monday after Mary Walsh, part of the CBC-TV comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes, ambushed him in his driveway as the character Marg Delahunty, with cameras rolling.
"First they said they weren't on my property. They were at my car, they were holding me. My daughter was just inside the door. You know, put yourself in my shoes," Ford said.
The mayor was responding to a CBC News report that quoted multiple sources who claimed Ford turned on the dispatcher who took one of the calls and said: "You … bitches! Don't you f--king know? I'm Rob f--king Ford, the mayor of this city!"
Ford said Thursday that report was inaccurate. CBC issued a statement saying "there were multiple sources who gave us information about the 911 call. We have re-confirmed with our sources and they stand behind what they have told us."
Ford said it's not up to him to release transcripts of the tapes; rather, it's a police decision.
When a reporter told him that police believe it's Ford's decision, the mayor replied he had not spoken to police yet.
Unclear how many calls made
Ford said in an earlier statement he released that he made a 911 call and was "repeatedly told police were arriving soon." He made another 911 call in which he expressed frustration with the delay, and that was when he used the "F-word," Ford said.
The statement didn't specify how many calls in total were made to 911.
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He also said he only found out after the incident that the two people who approached him in his driveway were part of a CBC-TV comedy team.
He said the crew didn't leave when asked and trespassed on his property.
Ford told reporters Monday after the run-in with the 22 Minutes crew that he called police after his daughter, who he says he was trying to drop off at school, got scared.
"I didn't know who they were, and obviously I've had death threats," Ford said Monday.
"I'm up for the games. I have no problem, you know what I mean, and I'm open to the media, but when you come to my private house early in the morning and ambush me that's — I think that crosses the line. I just told the police, and they'll take it from there."
The contents of the call have spread throughout the police service — even though officially Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash tells CBC News they can't discuss a private call to the 911 service.
Dispatchers sent a crew on high priority, arriving at his Etobicoke home 10 minutes after the call.
Councillor defends Ford
Ford's ally, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, came to his defence.
"I think anyone in the same circumstance would have done the same thing," he said.
"The point is something happened and they were afraid. That's the mayor's story, and I believe him when he says his family was threatened," Mammoliti told reporters Thursday.
"And if he feels his family was threatened and called the police, the question needs to be: 'where was the police?' That's the question, instead of the language the mayor was using."
CBC News contacted the Toronto Police Association, the union that represents the 911 call takers. The association's president, Mike McCormack, refused to discuss the situation or the complaints of his members who work in the Toronto police radio room where 911 calls are received.
The situation comes a week after the Toronto Police Services Board approved a new police budget for 2012 that came after a protracted battle that involved talk of possible layoffs.
In the end, Chief Bill Blair won't be forced to lay off any officers next year. Taking into account labour cost increases and inflationary pressures, the budget will go up $6 million, to $936.3 million.