TORONTO — A defiant Mayor Rob Ford refused Tuesday to apologize or explain televised comments in which he sparked a threat of legal action by appearing to accuse a reporter of being a pedophile.
Asked if he would say sorry to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale or clarify the comments he made during a Vision TV interview with former media baron and convicted felon Conrad Black, Ford was emphatic.
“I stand by my words, what I said with Conrad Black,” Ford told a news conference, his voice rising.
“I stand by every word I said.”
Black had asked Ford in the interview broadcast Monday about media intrusion on his family’s privacy, and Ford singled out Dale for an incident that happened in May 2012.
Dale has said he was writing a story about a plot of public land adjacent to Ford’s house that the mayor wanted to buy, so he went to take a look when the mayor emerged from his home to confront him.
“Daniel Dale is in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. He’s taking pictures of little kids,” Ford told Black in the interview, taped Friday.
“I don’t want to say that word but you start thinking what this guy is all about.”
During Tuesday’s news conference, Ford refused to specify “the word.”
“If you watch the interview you’ll know what I said,” he said angrily.
“If you watched Conrad Black’s interview, actually there was two . . . I hope you saw both of them, and I stand by every word I said.”
Earlier Tuesday, Dale denounced Ford’s suggestion as “categorically false.”
“In the calmest terms possible, it is unpleasant when the mayor of the biggest city in Canada essentially accuses you, or suggests, you are a pedophile,” Dale said.
Dale, who seemed bemused by Ford’s comments, said at no time did he ever take any photographs of the mayor’s family, house or property — and a police investigation bore that out.
The matter was in the hands of Star lawyers, Dale said, adding he had made no decision on whether to sue.
Neither Black nor Vision TV responded to interview requests Tuesday.
However, Vision’s code of ethics warns against misrepresenting or inciting hatred against any individual. It also promises to correct any “significant unfairness.”
Editor in chief Michael Cooke told Newstalk 1010 Tuesday that it would be Dale’s decision on whether to sue but said the Star would back him financially.
“I can’t think of a worse thing to say about a man — a man who has sex with children,” Cooke said.
“I can’t think of a worse insult, a worse libel, a worse accusation.”
Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s defender in chief, struck a lone voice of dissent, saying his brother never suggested Dale was a pedophile.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who has assumed most of the mayor’s powers, denounced the mayor’s view.
“It’s dead wrong,” Kelly said.
“It’s almost beyond comment. It goes beyond the pale and I think there should be an apology for that.”