Rob and Doug Ford are in trouble with the integrity commissioner yet again.
In two reports going to council next week, commissioner Janet Leiper concluded that Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, both violated council's code of conduct when they made disparaging remarks about the medical officer of health on their radio show.
The Fords were upset by a Toronto Public Health report called "Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto", which, among other recommendations, called for lowering speed limits on residential streets to 30 km/h.
On the April 29 broadcast of the mayor's talk radio show The City, Rob Ford said the report was "nonsense." Leiper noted that Ford called Dr. David McKeown's $300,000 salary "an embarrassment" and promised to "look into that and try to straighten things out."
In a separate report, Leiper noted that "Councillor Ford referred to the MOH as ‘this guy' and asked on two separate occasions, "Why does he still have a job?"
Leiper conducted her investigations into the on-air remarks after board of health chair Councillor John Filion lodged a formal complaint.
She determined that the Fords' remarks violated Article XII of council's code of conduct, which states "no member shall maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation of the prospects or practice of staff, and all members shall show respect for the professional capacities of staff."
"Public name-calling and/or personal attacks on staff can have a chilling effect on the public service to make good faith recommendations in accordance with their individual mandates," Leiper wrote.
After the commissioner provided the mayor with a copy of the complaint, he wrote back asserting that his on-air comments didn't violate the code and that he was merely speaking on behalf of taxpayers. Rob Ford argued "it was embarrassing for a senior civil servant... to authorize the spending of over $60,000 on a Walking and Cycling Report that is entirely outside the mandate of his agency."
But at a later meeting with Leiper, the mayor admitted he hadn't read the report in full, nor the provincial document that outlines the medical officer of health's role in making health policy. Leiper determined that it was within McKeown's mandate to recommend lower speed limits and other streetscape changes, and that " the mayor's remarks arose from an incomplete understanding of the role and mandate of the MOH."
The integrity commissioner is recommending that council find both Fords violated the code of conduct and that Doug Ford should be sanctioned. She refrained from recommending the mayor be sanctioned because on the day she filed the reports, he wrote he a letter retracting his comments.
But Filion, who has seen the letter, says that it's not a retraction at all, and does not address the substance of his complaint. Instead, in it the mayor again attacked the Road to Health report.
Filion hopes that the mayor and Councillor Ford apologize at council next week and agree to change their behaviour. He warns that the climate at City Hall has grown toxic under the Ford administration, and civil servants are becoming afraid to give impartial advice.
"There needs to be a change in behaviour. And if the mayor doesn't accept that, then the members of council and the public need to realize that these aren't trivial matters," Filion says.
"If you remove the objective and professional advice, everything breaks down."
Neither Ford brother immediately returned a request for comment.
This is not the first time the Fords have been in hot water with the integrity commissioner. The mayor has been found in violation of the code of conduct a half dozen times since he was elected councillor in 2000, and Doug Ford was cited for intimidating a member of the public at a council meeting last year.
He later apologized.