Rob Ford Robocalls: Mayor Defends Calling Councillor's Constituents

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ROB FORD RADIO SHOW
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford defended robocalls made to Coun. Paul Ainslie's constituents saying he paid for the calls out of his own pocket. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he ordered robocalls to east-end residents to make sure they knew their councillor voted against a subway expansion.

Ford says he didn't do anything wrong since he believes it's his "responsibility to the taxpayers" to make sure constituents know how their councillors vote.

Coun. Paul Ainslie says residents in his ward were called Friday night with a minute-long recorded message from Ford — hours after he quit the mayor's cabinet-style executive committee.

In the recording, Ford says it was "extremely unfortunate" Ainslie did not vote this week in favour of the subway extension in his ward.

Ainslie says he'll be making complaints to the city's Integrity Commissioner and the CRTC over the robocalls.

On his weekly radio show Sunday the mayor said he was puzzled as to why Ainslie would take issue with the automated calls.

"What is he going to say to the Integrity Commissioner? Rob Ford told my constituents how I voted? What is wrong with that," he said after earlier reading a list of councillors' names and how they voted.

"It cost a few hundred dollars to do this. I'm paying for this, folks, personally... out of my own pocket so it's not costing taxpayers a dime."

In the recording, which has been posted online, Ford singles out Ainslie from his fellow east-end councillors for his subway stance.

"It was extremely, extremely unfortunate that your councillor Paul Ainslie was the only Scarborough councillor who did not listen to his constituents and voted against the Scarborough subway," Ford said in his message.

Though Ainslie once supported the subway expansion, he changed his mind in favour of a cheaper light rail line prior to Tuesday's vote.

Ford said the robocalls aimed to make sure his constituents knew that.

"He said he was supporting it and in the last minute he decided to switch? You've got to tell people this, and if you don't then I have to," he said, adding he was going to fire Ainslie from the executive committee before he quit.

Ainslie has said he resigned from the committee because he didn't want to be "bullied" by the mayor and told how to vote.

Ford begins the recording by introducing himself and reading out his office's phone number.

The city's code of conduct bars use of municipal equipment for non-city business. Municipal law expert John Mascarin questioned whether the calls ran afoul of that rule, since they were made days after subway vote.

"The vote was already taken at council, so the robocalls could not have been for the purpose to solicit the public's support and gather people to call Councillor Ainslie and get him to vote for the subway."

(The Canadian Press, CFRB)

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