Once again police have been called to the mayor's house.
Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was near the mayor's home Wednesday evening. He says he was researching a story about a piece of land the mayor wants to buy to build a better fence.
Dale had walked through a parkland towards the mayor's backyard and never entered private property. But when the mayor's neighbours noticed him from their kitchen window after 7:30 p.m., they knocked on Rob Ford's door to let him know.
The neighbours say he was right near the mayor's fence where two cinder blocks now sit, about two metres away.
Dale writes on the Star's website that he was perhaps 10 metres away and never came close to entering the Ford backyard, which is separated from the parkland by a wooden fence. (See below for the full text of Dale's version of the story.)
The neighbours say Dale was talking on the phone when they saw him in the parkland and looked like he was snapping photos.
Zdravko, the next-door neighbour, says when he knocked on the mayor's door to let him know about the stranger nearby, Ford got very upset.
Ford decided to confront the reporter in the parkland. Dale dropped his cell phone and recorder and took off. Police were called.
There has been a fued going on between the Toronto Star and the Fords, and the mayor said at his home Wednesday night, "enough is enough."
His brother, Doug Ford, says he wants the paper to stop harassing his family.
Speaking with Newstalk 1010 on Wednesday night, a Toronto Star representative denied that the paper has been harassing the Fords.
Daniel Dale posted his side of the story in an article on the Toronto Star's website.
The following is what he wrote.
Usually, it is the media chasing Mayor Rob Ford. I never expected Mayor Ford to chase me. Nor to fear for my safety in his presence.
I’ve been a City Hall reporter since a week after the mayor took office in December of 2010. On Wednesday afternoon, I learned that he had asked the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to buy a parcel of little-used TRCA land adjacent to his house. In a letter to the TRCA’s executive committee, he said he wanted the land so that he could erect a “better” fence to prevent young people from trespassing on his property and to protect his children.
In his letter, Ford said the land was a “vacant” parcel; a TRCA official told me it was actually a sliver of city-operated parkland that had mature trees. I decided that I needed to visit the property to see what it actually looked like. I also wanted to see if Ford’s home already had a fence. And I wanted to see where the land was actually located; the TRCA’s map was confusing.
I arrived sometime after 7:30 p.m. I walked around the parkland toward the mayor’s property. I took note of the trees, then, standing perhaps 10 metres from his wooden backyard fence, emailed an additional two sentences to my editor at 7:47. My phone died as I tried to snap photos of the trees and the fencing. I’m still not sure if the parcel I was standing on is the parcel Ford is looking to acquire, but I can say this with certainty: I never came close to entering his backyard.
Moments after my phone died, the mayor appeared, wearing a white campaign t-shirt, at the sole entrance and exit to the parcel of property; he had walked around from the front of his house. He appeared extremely agitated.
“Hey buddy,” he yelled. “What are you doing? Are you spying on me? Are you spying on me? Are you spying on me?”
I shouted, astonished, that I was not – that I was writing about his attempt to buy TRCA land. He began to approach me at a brisk walk, asking again, at an escalating volume, if I was spying. I continued to plead that I was writing about the land.
At some point, perhaps 10 or 15 seconds into the encounter, he cocked his fist near his head and began charging at me at a full run. I began pleading with him, as loud as I could, with my hands up, for him to stop. I yelled, at the top of my lungs, something like, “Mayor Ford, I’m writing about the land! I’m just looking at the land! You’re trying to buy the TRCA land!” Instinctually, I also reached into my pocket to grab my dead phone. I then fiddled with my voice recorder, trying fruitlessly to turn it on so that I would have a recording of any physical violence.
At some point, perhaps two metres away from me, the mayor did stop moving toward me, but his face remained menacing, and he continued to cock his fist and shake it. “Drop your phone!” he demanded, shouting louder than I have ever heard him. “Drop your phone! Drop your phone now!”
Every time I tried to sidestep him to escape, he moved with me and yelled at me again to drop my phone. I became more frightened than I can remember; after two or three attempts to dart away, I threw my phone and my recorder down on the grass, yelled that he could take them, and ran.
When I reached the park’s parking lot, a fair distance away, I approached two young men who were sitting in a car, asking them to use their phone. The mayor, looking in our direction, continued to shout, and I ran to my car and drove away.