The Scarborough councillor formally announces he's filing a complaint with the integrity commissioner over the mayor's robocalls.
Councillors to the left of Rob Ford have used such language for years, but now one of the mayor’s former allies is joining in. Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East), who until last week sat on Ford’s cabinet-like executive committee, convened a press conference at City Hall today to announce that he’ll be filing a complaint with the City’s integrity commissioner over robocalls made from the mayor’s office on Friday night. “I’m here today to start the fight back against a bully and a liar,” Ainslie began, describing the robocalls as “political thuggery” and decrying them as an instance of “American-style politics” which have no place here. He is also, he said, considering filing a complaint with the CRTC over comments Ford and his brother made during their weekly radio show on Sunday.
Rob Ford did not offer any immediate response. Doug Ford stepped out of a committee meeting to speak with reporters, saying that the problem was with the vote Ainslie cast (“unfortunately he threw his constituents under the streetcar”) and not the calls Rob Ford made about it. “This is politics folks, make no mistake about it.”
Ainslie’s full press conference is in the video above; the full text of his statement is after the jump.
Thank you for joining me here today.
I’m here today to start the fight back against a bully and a liar. I’m here to say enough is enough with this mayor, who thinks he can get away with anything by twisting the truth, saying some of the truth, or not telling it straight at all. For those who will shrug and say ‘well that’s just politics’, I’ll say they’re dead wrong and they’re lying to themselves.
I’m here to comment on some things that have occurred over the past few days, to set the facts straight for the record, both for my constituents in Scarborough and others across the city. For the record: I’ve always supported a subway for those who live in Scarborough. Just two and a half months ago I joined the mayor and voted in favour of a subway. I voted for a subway based on sound financial transparency, disclosure, and the commitment there would be no tax hike for people in this city and especially my constituents. Everyone here knows that. And everyone knows the mayor stood for the same thing at that time.
That’s not the vote that came to council last week—it was for a subway which guarantees a tax hike, is not transparent, and does not disclose the full extent of the financial commitments we’re making with that decision. And to my shock, Mayor Ford gave in on his longstanding pledge to hold the line and make sure we knew all the implications of the subway deal. Because of this, I went the other way. I didn’t, as he says, lead a charge against subways in Scarborough. What I did was lead a charge against the tax hike and no financial clarity. It’s the mayor who caved, not me.
It’s the mayor who’s now doing what he always does when he doesn’t want to be caught out or be truthful. He’s just using his bully pulpit to find a scapegoat for his own failings, here at City Hall or out on the streets of Toronto.
The choice to me last week was very clear: either vote with the mayor—who had broken his promise and changed his mind on something he had said for months—or vote for the alternative, and resign from his executive committee, which I felt was the honourable thing to do. And that’s what I did. I voted the other way because I’m not interested in having tax hikes for people or creating a financial boondoggle down the road. What I’ve been about as a councillor is the value of taxpayers’ money. I’m with the mayor in fighting gravy at City Hall. That’s why I backed Rob Ford from the outset in 2010 and was a member of executive committee. I’m proud of many of the things that I accomplished on that committee.
It was plausible to stick around while the agenda was being pressed forward and the needs of the people of Toronto were being met. The subway and whether it is needed has never been an issue to me; how it was funded has. I’ve always resisted new taxes for an overtaxed city, and that was the appeal of the agenda many people supported in electing Mayor Ford in the last election. Tossing that position aside is just cynical politics—which is a fun game when you don’t have to pay the bills. In this regard, I’ve had enough and I won’t stand by and silently watch as we add to our debt. So I’ve done all I can do: I’ve voted against it, and I’ve resigned from the executive committee.
When I told the mayor the other day I was resigning from his executive committee, he looked me in the eye, said he respected me, and looked forward to us being friends for a long time to come. Just three short hours later, he carpet-bombed Scarborough residents with a robocall telling them I voted against subways. He went on CFRB with his brother on the weekend and, unopposed, ranted over my position, and said all he was doing was letting constituents know my voting record. We all know here what that was: it was a blatant act of political thuggery, the type of which has never been witnessed before—robocalls using the mayor’s phone number and his own voice to my constituents. On the weekend, [on] an open radio show, he said this was just the beginning, and that it would happen to others soon enough.
This says two things to me. First, he knows I’m right for calling him out on a tax hike flip-flop, and the debt run-up we face on hidden costs, so he singled me out and he’s trying to change the subject. Second, this mayor and his brother will use whatever means or platform they have to demonize those who point out the apparent truth when they’ve overstepped it. Well, I’m here to tell the Ford brothers this: I’m not scared of you. People in this city won’t be fooled, and people in my constituency of Scarborough know who I am and what I’ve stood for and what I’m about.
Mr. Ford, you can throw a FordFest party in my backyard, but I live there, and you don’t.
This week, I’m going to be doing two things. First, I’m going to file a complaint with the City of Toronto Integrity Commissioner about the mayor’s conduct. I’m compelled to get it on the record because if it happens to me, then it could happen to anyone else who sits on council, and beyond, who crosses swords with the mayor and his equally bully brother. And for those of you who will just shrug and say once again ‘well, that’s politics’, or the bully mayor and his brother who will shrug and say they’re just letting people know how [councillors] are voting on items at City Hall, let’s be clear: American-style politics has no place in Toronto City Hall, let alone this country, and the mayor has crossed the line. If it isn’t stopped here and now it will be an all-year-round smear campaign where election campaign rules will be considered a joke. Second, I’m going to vigorously campaign for my own seat in the upcoming election in 2010 [sic], to keep representing Scarborough faithfully, as I’ve done for close to the past eight years. Not being part of the executive committee now gives me the independence to speak my mind and do nothing but stay true to the principles and values that took me to City Hall in the first place in 2006.
Thank you very much.