Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is threatening to freeze out all city hall media unless a Toronto Star reporter he got into a tense confrontation with outside his home is removed from the municipal affairs beat.
Ford told AM640's John Oakley on Thursday morning he "can't even find a word to describe how low" the Toronto Star has gone after his altercation with city hall reporter Daniel Dale.
"If Daniel Dale's ... down at city hall, I will not be talking to any reporters if he is part of that scrum. They have to take him out of city hall," said Ford.
"You cannot have any city hall reporter peering in your back yard."
Ford is accusing the Star of harassment after he confronted Dale behind his property in Etobicoke between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Star said Dale was in the area as part of research on a story he is following about Ford's application to purchase a parcel of wooded land adjacent to his backyard that belongs to the Toronto Conservation Authority.
Ford said he is now considering legal action.
Ford said a neighbour alerted him to Dale's presence, which prompted Ford to go to the back of the house and confront him.
"He was like a cornered rat, he didn't know where to go," Ford told Oakley, adding he "never laid a hand on the guy."
"Every single person said I should have just cooked the guy."
Ford said he recognized Dale, got "pretty upset" and told him to leave.
"He just started panicking and said ' Oh no, don't hit me, don't hit me, don't hit me, don't hit me'" Ford said.
“He started saying ‘Help, help, help and I said ‘What are you saying help for?’” Ford said.
Dale wrote in an online account of the events that Ford walked around to the back of the house, confronted him and was "extremely agitated."
"At some point, perhaps 10 or 15 seconds into the encounter, he cocked his fist near his head and began charging at me at a full run," Dale wrote. "I began pleading with him, as loud as I could, with my hands up, for him to stop."
Ford said Dale was standing on a cinder block taking pictures over the back of his fence. Dale said he was taking photos "of the trees and the fencing."
Star spokesman Bob Hepburn said Dale didn't go into Ford's yard and remained on public property throughout the incident.
In his version of events, Dale wrote that Ford stopped moving toward him at a distance of about two metres.
Dale said Ford insisted that he drop the phone, which Dale said he eventually did do. Dale said he then returned to his car and left.
Police reviewing security footage
Oakley asked Ford if he ever considered getting a security detail in light of this incident and other concerns for the mayor's safety.
"I hate to go to that extreme, Johnny," said Ford.
"I'll take care of it Johnny, I don't need security to take care of the Toronto Star."
Ford and the Star had a tense relationship even prior to Wednesday's incident. Upset over coverage during the 2010 mayoralty campaign, Ford has refused to grant interviews to the newspaper.
Ford has been the subject of death threats, and his sister’s former boyfriend was charged with making death threats against the mayor earlier this year.
After that incident, the mayor's brother Coun. Doug Ford called for more security around his house.
He also told 1010 Newstalk Radio security cameras captured the incident, and the images clearly show the the reporter's head "bobbing" over the fence.
"Police have seen it," said Ford.
Last fall, police were called to Ford's home after a crew from the CBC comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes went to his house for the purpose of conducting a surprise interview.
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