This week, our ever-embattled mayor is in a University Ave. courtroom defending himself against libel allegations.
Tuesday, as Rob Ford sat attentive in a sharp black suit and burgundy tie, the court heard opening arguments. The mayor himself is expected to take the stand on Friday.
Because we know it can be difficult to keep track of the hot water Rob Ford is in these days, here's all you need to know about the latest drama surrounding His Worship.
What is this case about?
Rob Ford is being sued for $6 million by George Foulidis, the owner of the Boardwalk Café in Woodbine Beach Park.
Foulidis alleges that in August 2010, Rob Ford - then a city councillor and mayoral candidate - made "serious and unsubstantiated allegations of criminality" against him during an interview with the Toronto Sun editorial board.
Wait, what? Why?
Foulidis has operated the Boardwalk Café since 1986, when he successfully bid for a city contract that gave him exclusive rights for a dining establishment on Woodbine Beach, which is city-owned land. Before the 20-year deal expired in 2006, Foulidis approached the city with a proposal to renew the contract for another 20 years. After some bureaucratic wrangling, council eventually agreed in 2010, without considering any other bids.
According to an article that appeared on the front page of the Toronto Sun on August 12, 2010, Ford told the editorial board that the untendered contract smacked of civic corruption, "stinks to high heaven," and suggested there were nefarious dealings going on "behind closed doors."
At the time, much was made of the fact that Foulidis, his family, friends, and employees had donated over $8,226 to local Councillor Sandra Bussin's campaigns over the years. Bussin was a vocal supporter of the Boardwalk Café extension.
But because Foulidis has never been convicted of any crime related the deal, he claims the mayor defamed him by suggesting it was illegal. His lawyer, Brian Shiller, told the court on Tuesday his client "had no choice but to go public in the face of what can only be described as a blatant attack on his integrity."
What is the mayor's defence?
Ford's lawyer Gavin Tighe presented a multi-pronged argument in defense of his client Tuesday.
First, Tighe argued that the deal between Foulidis and the city was a matter of public interest, and Ford's statements fall under the category of "fair comment." As a mayoral candidate, Tighe asserted that Ford should be given even greater latitude to "ventilate matters of concern to the public" during an election campaign.
In his comments to the Sun, Ford criticized Tuggs Inc., the company that owns the Boardwalk Café, but never mentioned Foulidis by name, Tighe said. In fact there's been no evidence presented that Ford even knew who George Foulidis was at the time. That's usually a prerequisite for libeling a person.
Furthermore, Ford denies that he ever told the Sun that the Tuggs deal "smacked of civic corruption." Those words were attributed to him by the Sun's Jonathan Jenkins, but he was paraphrasing Ford and didn't put the remark in quotations.
Tuesday, the court was told we'll never know exactly what Ford said because a recording the Sun made of the interview has since been erased. But in a plot twist worthy of the best TV courtroom drama, later that evening the Sun posted a story declaring a former employee has now provided them with a copy of the recording.
While the opposing lawyers will no doubt have very different interpretations, the transcript the Sun has posted doesn't do Ford any favours. He appears to call the Tuggs deal "illegal" and suggests the police should investigate it.
Is football involved?
Of course! It wouldn't be a Rob Ford Controversy™ without a little pigskin in the mix. Ford is expected to skip out on the hearing on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons because his high school football team, the Don Bosco Eagles, is playing in the Metro Bowl quarterfinals on Thursday, and need to practice the day before.
Is David Miller going to testify?
Although the former mayor was one of several well-known political personalities that were initially summoned as witnesses, it looks unlikely he will be called. Sue-Ann Levy, the controversial Sun columnist, will also avoid the hot seat.
Foulidis took the stand Tuesday and the only other witnesses currently scheduled to appear are Ford, Jenkins, and Bruce Baker, a former city council candidate who is also being sued for defamation by Foulidis.
When is it over?
The trial is expected to wrap up by Friday, but at the rate it proceeded Tuesday, and given the new evidence of the Sun interview transcript, it could drag into next week.