Mayor Ford Goes to Court
Day one of Rob Ford's six million dollar defamation lawsuit came and went without hearing from the Mayor himself, but Ford is expected to take the stand sometime this week with lawyers pegging Friday for closing arguments.
Both sides laid out their cases during opening statements in a fifth floor courtroom at 330 University Avenue and both took very different positions on the issue.
Ford is being sued for comments he made to the Toronto Sun during the 2010 mayoral campaign in which a statement attributed to him suggested that a sole-sourced deal with the owner of the Boardwalk Cafe was corrupt. Ford was paraphrased and denies that he made that comment. A recording of the conversation was erased.
Ford was also quoted suggesting the deal "stinks to high heaven," he also made similar comments on Newstalk 1010 and suggested that someone was getting money under the table.
Brian Shiller, lawyer for plaintiff George Foulidis, says Ford's comments were malicious and damaging and that his client had little choice other than to come forward and defend himself.
Ford's lawyer Gavin Tighe says lawsuit can't succeed if for no other reason than there was no defamation.
Ford was talking about Foulidis's company, Tuggs Inc., but never named Foulidis as he didn't even know him at the time, and corporations can't be defamed.
``Corporations can't have hurt feelings,'' says Tighe.
Ford's lawyer also argued that voters have a right to find out where politicians stand on city issues and seemed to back up a claim from the Mayor's camp that the lawsuit was political. Tighe suggested the suit was "tactical litigation" used to silence debate.
The trial is scheduled to continue for the rest of the week and Ford is expected to take the stand before proceedings are complete.
George Foulidis was the only witness to take the stand after both sides made their opening statements.
Toronto city council extended a lease Foulidis had for his Boardwalk Cafe restaurant on public land in a sole-sourced, untendered contract in the summer of 2010, the middle of Ford's ultimately successful campaign to become mayor.
Only Ford and Sun reporter Jonathan Jenkins are expected to be called to testify in the case against Ford, according to the plan laid out by Shiller. He may call on other witnesses that have been summoned to testify, but hopes to not have to.
Foulidis is also suing Bruce Baker, a candidate in that municipal election for the Boardwalk Cafe's ward, for a letter he sent to councillors suggesting police should investigate the deal.
(With files from the Canadian Press and Dave Bradley)