12/10/2013 12:16 EST | Updated 02/09/2014 05:59 EST

Defiant Mayor Ford stands by comment suggesting reporter is a pedophile

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 in an interview.

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."

Among other things, Ford has garnered national and international attention for his admission to smoking crack cocaine while in office, buying illegal drugs and making an obscene comment about a female aide on national television.

He has frequently denounced the Star, which in May carried the story of a video in which Ford appears to smoke crack cocaine, calling its reporters "pathological liars."

Kelly suggested it was time for journalists to give Ford a wider berth.

"If the media didn't follow the mayor as closely as it has, I think it would take the oxygen out of the room," Kelly said.

Ivor Shapiro, chairman of Ryerson's School of Journalism, said Ford does at times get too much media scrutiny, and journalists can lose their sense of proportion.

"I sympathize with people who think the mayor gets more attention than he deserves and that news media are somewhat obsessed with his every move and his every foible," Shapiro said.

"(But) he is the head of a very large government and to hold the heads of government accountable for their behaviour is part of what of media do."

Shapiro did say Ford gives journalists a "lot of reasons" to be interested in his behaviour.

Black, who served 37 months in a Florida prison after being convicted in the U.S. for fraud and obstruction of justice, said on air in advance of the interview that Ford should be accorded a full presumption of innocence unless he is justly convicted and "beyond that, his accusers should put up or shut up."