Mayor Rob Ford is seen pushing his way through members of the media at Toronto City Hall earlier this month. The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale is moving forward with legal action against the mayor because of comments he made about the reporter. Chris Young/Canadian Press
Toronto Star city hall reporter Daniel Dale has taken the first step toward suing Mayor Rob Ford over comments he made in a televised interview with Conrad Black. Dale claims the mayor implied he was a pedophile.
Dale's lawyers visited the mayor's office Thursday afternoon to serve libel notice, a necessary step in filing a defamation lawsuit.
Dale said Vision TV, the network that aired the interview, has also been served with the same notice.
"It had become clear to me that, if I had done nothing, the mayor would make his smears some sort of political talking point," Dale says in an editorial in the newspaper. "His comments to Black were no one-time slip; they seemed to be the first shots in a bewildering campaign against my good name."
Star editor Michael Cooke said the "pervert accusation" amounted to "vile slander."
The Star is financing Dale's legal proceedings. Cooke said the reporter has the Star's "full and complete support."
Ford has been under intense media scrutiny for months, following reports that someone was shopping a video that showed him smoking crack cocaine.
For months, the mayor denied both the allegation and the video’s existence.
But in November, Ford admitted smoking crack cocaine after police revealed they had obtained a video of the mayor that was consistent with what the media had reported.
The mayor has also admitted to drinking to excess and used illegal drugs while in office.
The drug-related scandal involving the mayor has made headlines around the world and has spurred repeated calls for Ford to either take a leave of absence or resign. Council has also stripped Ford of a number of powers he previously held.
Ford, 44, has served as the mayor of Toronto for three years. He has pledged to run for re-election next year.
Throughout his time as mayor, Ford has found himself at the centre of various controversies.
He previously faced a conflict-of-interest challenge that nearly forced him from office, as well as a defamation lawsuit.
But he won an appeal that overturned a judge’s removal order and the unrelated defamation lawsuit was dismissed.
Ford previously coached a high school football team that some critics suggested was a distraction to his work at city hall. But the school board picked a new coach this year after reviewing comments the mayor had made to a TV station.
Until he recently agreed to get a driver, Ford had been asked to consider getting one on several occasions — including when he admitted that he was "probably" reading documents while driving his Cadillac Escalade on the Gardiner Expressway.