POLITICS
10/28/2011 03:39 EDT | Updated 12/28/2011 05:12 EST

Rob Ford 911 Tape: Toronto Mayor Did Not Call Emergency Operators 'Bitches' Says Police Chief Bill Blair

Flickr: West Annex News

TORONTO - The CBC "misrepresented" calls embattled Mayor Rob Ford made to 911 in which he did not call the operators insulting names, the city's police chief said Friday.

In a statement, Bill Blair said he had listened to the three emergency calls Ford made and felt it necessary "to set the record straight" about the calls.

"The content of those conversations has been misrepresented by what are claimed to be 'several anonymous sources," Blair said in the statement.

"The mayor did not use the (slur) attributed to him by those (sources)."

In addition, Blair said, Ford did not describe himself as the CBC report had outlined, and said there had been "no complaints" by any members of the police service about the conversations.

The CBC said late Friday that it had "multiple, credible, well-placed sources" within the police service, including a dispatcher.

"We are reporting what was told to us," spokesman Chris Ball said in an email.

"This is a developing story and we're continuing to report on it as it unfolds."

The embattled mayor gave no indication Friday he would release tapes of the calls in which he admitted "saying the F-word" but denied using any slurs.

As the Twitterverse howled in outrage, derision, glee — and occasionally in support — the mayor remained mum on the outburst that followed a confrontation with a comedy troupe in his driveway.

"I have nothing further to add on this matter at this time," Ford spokeswoman Adrienne Batra said Friday.

On Monday, Ford called emergency services after Mary Walsh of the CBC's comedy series "22 Minutes" confronted him in his driveway.

Ford, who has had death threats, said he didn't know who Walsh was and feared for his safety.

On Thursday, the CBC cited unspecified sources as saying Ford called the operators an insulting name, and said: "Don't you (expletive) know? I’m Rob (expletive) Ford, the mayor of this city."

In response, Ford admitted to being frustrated at how long the police took to arrive, but called the allegations he made "foul and derogatory comments" toward 911 staff "absolutely false."

"After being attacked in my driveway, I hope I can be excused for saying the F-word," Ford said in a statement Thursday.

In one unscientific online poll, almost 80 per cent called on Ford, who has a history of public temper tantrums, to release the tapes as "the only way to prove his side of the story."

In an editorial, the Toronto Star sternly urged: "Release the tapes, Mr. Mayor."

The situation prompted some Twitter users to resurrect the term "schadenford" — taking pleasure at the mayor's misfortunes — and a play on the German word schadenfreude.

A few, however, criticized the CBC, which has said it stands by its story, for reporting the contents of the private 911 call on the basis of unnamed sources.

"For its own integrity, the CBC needs to produce a tape," said Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington.

Even though the call was "nobody else's business," Warmington did urge Ford to at least release a transcript.

"There is a true story out there because when you cut through it all, somebody is lying," he wrote.

Police said they would not release the tape without the mayor's permission and would not comment on whether there had been any such discussions.

"You'd have to speak to the mayor about that," police spokesman Mark Pugash said Friday.

For her part, Walsh said she was "surprised" by Ford's reaction to her Marg Delahunty character, and the subsequent attention paid to her "tiny satiric molehill."

"Relax. Chill out. Lower the whole hysteric thing," Walsh said in an interview with the online site, zoomers.ca.

"It's not the end of the world. Other people have been ambushed by Marg. It's no big deal."

Blair also said people should not hesititate to call 911 if they feel their safety threatened.

The incident also garnered attention in the U.S., with the L.A.-based Hollywood Reporter reporting the story under the heading: "Toronto Mayor Admits Dropping F-Bomb After CBC TV Ambush."

Cartoonists had a field day, mostly around the use of the mayor's expletives, while others tweeted fake warnings to trick-or-treaters about going to Ford's house on Halloween or came up with video parodies.

Bob Reid, a public-relations expert, also urged Ford to give up the tape, especially since it would likely leak out.

"You are in a position to bring this whole saga to a close, or leave a time bomb ticking away," Reid said.

"Pull the pin."

Meanwhile, a three-month-old online petition to "impeach" Ford that had been collecting a few signatures a day suddenly picked up steam this week — reaching almost 5,000 of its 10,000-signature goal.

The statement from Bill Blair:

“While it is not my practice to comment on 9-1-1 calls made to TPS emergency operators, serious allegations have been made about what was said during a series of three calls involving the mayor, and whether there was any abuse of the 9-1-1 service.

“I’m concerned that this may have created confusion with the public about whether to call 9-1-1 or not. I cannot allow that to happen. Public safety is too important. Let me be clear. Anyone who has concerns for their safety, or the safety of their family, should call 9-1-1 without hesitation.

“I also feel it is necessary to set the record straight about the conversations. There have been no complaints by any members of the TPS about the 9-1-1 conversations.

“The content of those conversations has been misrepresented by what are claimed to be “several anonymous sources,” presumably from within the TPS, in which case I have to set the record straight. I have listened to the three emergency calls. The mayor did not use the word “bitches,” attributed to him by those “several anonymous sources.” The mayor did not describe himself as the original account claimed.

“Emergency calls involve people who are under stress, trying to communicate with emergency operators. Those operators work under great pressure, trying to get vital information from people, who are extremely anxious, so the proper police resources can be deployed. Our emergency operators are extremely well trained, equipped to deal with the most difficult situations. What is most important, above all else, is that public safety is protected.”

William Blair

Chief of Police

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