Mayor Rob Ford, shown while visiting Ottawa earlier this week, wants to know how much money police spent following him last year. Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
An angry Mayor Rob Ford has criticized Toronto police over the funds used to follow him last fall, calling on Chief Bill Blair to "come clean" about the cost of that investigation.
"If he’s going to arrest me, arrest me. I have done nothing wrong and he’s wasted millions of dollars," Ford said Thursday afternoon during a scrum with reporters at Toronto City Hall.
"I want him to come clean and say how much money did it cost the taxpayers for surveillance on me and the planes that he had to rent — that is absolutely game-playing, it’s politics and I am not apologizing."
Ford had first been talking with reporters about the status of city skating rinks, but the talk quickly turned to his testy relationship with the city’s police chief.
He expressed frustration Thursday that Blair had been offended by remarks Ford made about him. The public has had a chance to hear those remarks, as they are part of a bizarre video that was posted online last month that showed Ford speaking in a Jamaican patois.
"I have nothing to apologize [for] and he owes the taxpayers of this city, why won’t he come clean and tell the taxpayers how much has he spent on surveilling me and obviously coming up with nothing? Coming up with me urinating in a parking lot? Coming up with an empty vodka bottle?" said Ford.
Mayor defends Steak Queen video remarks
Ford also defended his behaviour in the patois video, which was recorded at Etobicoke’s Steak Queen restaurant.
"There’s nothing illegal, I can go out and if I chose to do that with my friends, I did nothing illegal at Steak Queen, OK?" Ford said.
"How I speak to my friends, as you know, and I am going to repeat what I’ve said before, I have a lot of Jamaican friends, if I speak that way in a private setting, which Steak Queen is, a private setting, and someone tapes me, I can’t help it if someone tapes me, OK?" he added.
When Ford spoke again with reporters at a later scrum that was also related to city rinks, he said he had no further remarks about the chief.
"I’ve said all I have to say about the chief," Ford said.
Coun. Paula Fletcher said Thursday that she believed the mayor’s feud with the police chief was a problem.
"This big public battle is a very unfortunate thing for the city as a whole, and I wish he would be far more guarded in the way that he approaches this," she said.
But the mayor was not the only Ford blasting the police chief on Thursday.
Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, also had tough words for Blair, alleging that the police chief brought up the Steak Queen video for political reasons.
"He said he was offended. Do you get offended six weeks, seven weeks after the fact?" said Ford, claiming this was evidence of the chief "getting involved in the political election."
Mayor Ford’s personal life has long made headlines since he was elected as mayor in 2010.
But when reports emerged last year that a video existed showing Ford using crack cocaine, the mayor found himself under a whole new level of media scrutiny.
For months, Ford denied both the existence of the video and using crack cocaine.
But days after Blair revealed that police had obtained a video file consistent with what the media had reported, Ford admitted that he had indeed smoked crack cocaine.
The police chief's Oct. 31 announcement also revealed the arrest of Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, the mayor’s friend and occasional driver, who has been charged with extortion.
The extortion charge is related to alleged attempts to retrieve the video involving the mayor.
Police have said that after Lisi was arrested, he indicated that the Fords would be making a public attack on the chief. And on the same day as Blair’s press conference about the video of the mayor, Coun. Ford publicly accused the police chief of a conflict of interest and criticized remarks he had made about the so-called crack tape.
On Thursday, Coun. Ford said he would be making a complaint related to the claim that Lisi had told police a complaint would be coming. The councillor denies having ever met or spoken with Lisi.
Following his crack-cocaine admission, Mayor Ford also admitted to buying illegal drugs while serving as mayor and to drinking to excess. He also apologized for making a crude sexual remark in front of reporters.
The events surrounding the video, the mayor, as well as the fallout from his admissions and apologies have made headlines around the world. Various late-night comedians have also poked fun at the mayor, who has also been the subject of skits on Saturday Night Live.
Questions about the mayor's drug use have followed him for months, including his visit to Ottawa earlier this week.
Fall election looms
Ford has defied calls to step down in the wake of his drug-related scandal and is seeking a second term as mayor.
On Thursday, the mayor made reference to the coming fall election, expressing his desire to debate his opponents.
More than two dozen people are seeking the mayor's job, including Coun. Karen Stintz, former Ontario PC leader John Tory and former city budget chief David Soknacki.
"I want to debate Mr. Tory, Ms. Stintz, Mr. Soknacki, Mr. [Denzil] Minnan-Wong, Ms. [Olivia] Chow and let the people decide," Ford said.
"Who do they trust with their tax dollars? Who do they trust, OK?"
Minnan-Wong and Chow have not officially announced their intentions, but both have said they are considering mayoral bids.