Not long after not-quite apologizing for Monday’s comparatively minor slip of the tongue, Rob Ford apologized for something much more serious: seemingly implying, during an interview with Conrad Black that aired last week, that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale is a pedophile.
At today’s city council meeting, the mayor stood on a point of privilege and read a prepared apology to Dale, who served Ford with a notice of libel last week after the pedophile comment aired on Vision TV.
The apology is in the vein of other Rob Ford almost-apologies, in that it expresses vague regret for having offended someone while at the same time seeming to admit no responsibility. Video of Ford’s full remarks had yet to surface online when this was written, but in Star‘s transcription, the mayor said: “I never called Mr. Dale a pedophile, I do not believe Mr. Dale is a pedophile. My comments related to the fear I had for my family when my long-time neighbour told me that someone was lurking at my fence and appeared to be taking pictures of my family home over the fence.”
Ford also admitted that during the 2012 incident in question, when he chased Dale off a piece of public land adjacent to the backyard of his Etobicoke home, he didn’t actually see the reporter engaging in any suspicious activity. “To be clear,” Ford said, “I never personally saw Mr. Dale peering over the fence or taking pictures. My neighbour told me, however, that he did see someone doing this. Mr. Dale apparently denied that.”
Dale had set a deadline for an apology from the mayor, and it expired over the weekend. It’s not clear, at this point, whether Dale’s defamation lawsuit will go forward.
UPDATE: CP24 has posted a video of Ford’s apology online. You can watch it here.
And here’s a full transcript of Ford’s remarks:
My comments related to the fear I had for my family when my long-time neighbour told me that someone was lurking at my fence and appeared to be taking pictures of my family home over the fence.
To be clear, I never personally saw Mr. Dale peering over the fence or taking pictures. My neighbour told me, however, that he did see someone doing this. Mr. Dale apparently denies that.
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 was leering over my fence.
At that moment, I had the same fears and concern that I believe many people would have at such a report from a neighbour that they’ve known for over 15 years. And I ran to the area as quickly as I could to accost the person, and attempt to protect my family.
When I arrived at the corner of my home, very far from the land Mr. Dale advises he was researching a story about, I indeed found an individual beside my fence in the general area my neighbour advised me. This confirmed my fears at the time. I accosted this person, as I believed he was a threat to my family.
This individual turned out to be Daniel Dale on assignment from the Toronto Star. I have no issue with Mr. Dale personally. I understand that he’s an employee in the very competitive news business and must do as his superiors instruct him. I do take issue with his bosses at the Toronto Star, to put him and I into this situation. I do not mean to insinuate anything about Mr. Dale personally in my interview with Mr. Black. I certainly did not intend to suggest that he is a pedophile. I was merely commenting on the thoughts that went through my mind on the night of May 2012 before I had any idea that that person my neighbour told me he saw peering over my fence was a reporter on assignment from the Toronto Star.
It is unfortunate that the word I did not say has been ascribed to me by the media [Note: It's true that Ford never actually said the word "pedophile" during his interview with Black], but I wish to sincerely apologize again to Mr. Dale, if my actual words have caused him any harm or personal offense. And if Mr. Daniel Dale is here I want to personally apologize to him.