12/17/2013 11:12 EST | Updated 02/16/2014 05:59 EST

Toronto Star reporter says Ford apology unsatisfactory; proceeding with lawsuit

TORONTO - Rob Ford's apology Tuesday for his televised comments about Daniel Dale failed to satisfy the Toronto Star reporter, who said he is going ahead with a defamation lawsuit against the Toronto mayor.

Ford read a statement in council saying he didn't intend to suggest Dale is a pedophile during a televised interview with Conrad Black.

"I never called Mr. Dale a pedophile," Ford said. "I have never used that word to describe Mr. Dale. I do not believe Mr. Dale is a pedophile nor did I intend to suggest that in my comments."

Ford said he apologizes if his "actual words" have caused Dale any harm or personal offence. The mayor called it "unfortunate" that a word he never said has been "ascribed" to him by the media.

Those remarks come a week after Ford initially said he stood by every word of the interview.

Dale served Ford last week with a libel notice, demanding the mayor retract all of his false claims about what happened during an incident near Ford's house in May 2012 and issue an "unreserved, abject, complete apology."

Hours after Ford read his statement, Dale issued one of his own on Twitter, saying Ford's apology didn't even come close to what he sought.

"In his 'apology,' the mayor didn't retract anything at all," Dale wrote. "Instead, he blamed the media for its reasonable interpretation of his words."

During the interview with Black, which aired Dec. 9 on VisionTV, Ford claimed that Dale was in his backyard, "taking pictures of little kids."

"I don't want to say that word, but you start thinking what this guy is all about," Ford said.

If pedophile wasn't "that word," then someone should ask Ford what word he was suggesting, Dale said in an interview.

"I think to some extent now it doesn't matter what he was suggesting," Dale said. "Whether it's his intent or not it's the impression that was left and I don't think it's because the media misinterpreted him."

Dale said he is still open to dropping the lawsuit if he gets a complete apology and a full retraction of Ford's claims that Dale was in his backyard and taking pictures of his children, which Dale said is "categorically false."

"I don't want this to be a part of my life for a long time," he said. "I just want to go to work and go home and have a holiday, so I'm still very open to resolving it before it becomes a long, drawn out thing."

But for now, Dale said an "I apologize if" is not satisfactory.

"So: while I appreciate the mayor's first step, no dad or teacher would accept that apology as sufficient. I would appreciate another try," Dale said in his statement

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. The reporter has said that at no time was he on the mayor's property nor did he take any pictures.

In relating the incident, Ford has often said Dale was in his backyard taking pictures.

On Tuesday, Ford said he never personally saw Dale peering over his fence or taking pictures, just that his neighbour told him he had seen someone doing that.

"Mr. Dale apparently denies that," Ford said. "At that moment, I honestly believed, I honestly believed my neighbour's account of the events. I had no idea at the time who the person was my neighbour told me who was leering over my fence."

It wasn't the only apology Ford issued Tuesday. He reluctantly apologized for comments he made at a council meeting the previous evening suggesting members of council were "corrupt."

He initially said he withdrew his comments, but speaker Frances Nunziata told him he needed to specifically apologize.

"How about, 'I am so sorry,'" Ford said sarcastically. "Is that as good as I apologize? Or, 'So sorry?' Which one do you want, Madam Speaker? Like, 'Super, super, super, super, super, super, super sorry? So sorry?'"