Rob Ford inspects an Etobicoke mural. Photo by Ben Spurr.
Mayor Rob Ford refused on Friday to answer questions about an after-hours visit he reportedly made to a Toronto jail, claiming that he has already addressed the incident.
Earlier this week, the Globe and Mail reported that the mayor showed up at the Toronto West Detention Centre on March 25 at 7 pm, three hours after visiting time was over. According to the paper, Ford requested a tour of the facility and when he was refused, asked to speak to an inmate named Bruno Bellissimo. He was eventually turned away.
Ford has steered clear of reporters all week but held a brief media availability Friday afternoon in North Etobicoke, where, along with his brother Councillor Doug Ford, he inspected a new community mural being painted on an underpass at Kipling and Belfield.
When a reporter asked Ford why he went to the jailhouse, he responded, "That's addressed." When asked to clarify if and when he had previously addressed the report, he replied, "Yes I have. Yes. Anything else?"
Ford also declined to answer questions about his activities last Friday evening, when he showed up at the Taste of the Danforth festival looking inebriated. On his radio show on Sunday, Ford admitted to having had "a couple of beers" last Friday night, but he was not spotted drinking on the Danforth. He was reportedly supposed to meet with his staff before the event but didn't show up at the appointed time.
On Friday, he didn't answer when reporters asked where he was before the festival.
"I've addressed that already. Anything else?" he said.
He said nothing when asked where he had been drinking.
After the scrum, reporters asked two of Ford's staffers when the mayor had addressed the report about the jail visit. One, acting press secretary Sunny Petrujkic, said that he wasn't paying attention during the mayor's scrum. A second, special assistant for communications Amin Massoudi, told reporters "It's over, guys" and walked away.
Ford was more than happy, however, to answer questions about a fishing expedition he took with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion on Thursday. The Toronto mayor reportedly stepped in to rescue McCallion during the Great Ontario Salmon Derby when she was in danger of being pulled into the water by a strong fish. Video of Ford clutching her around the waist as she attempts to reel in her catch was making the rounds on social media by Friday morning.
"I was right beside [her], and I just gave an old football tackle to save her," Ford said of the incident. "It was pretty scary, it was shocking."
The mayor also reiterated his hope that council will agree to call a by-election to replace outgoing deputy mayor Doug Holyday. Holyday is leaving City Hall after winning a seat in the provincial legislature earlier this month. Mayor Ford has called a special council meeting for August 26 to decide whether to send voters in Holyday's old Etobicoke Centre ward to the polls, or have council appoint an interim replacement.
Some councillors have balked at the potential $225,000 price tag for a by-election, especially because it would come less than a year before the October 2014 municipal vote. But Ford told reporters that he's received many phone calls and emails that indicate Ward 3 residents want an early election.
Wrangling the minimum 23 councillors needed to hold the meeting could be difficult in the middle of council's summer break, but Ford said he was confident that his colleagues will show up.
"I've given them more than two weeks' notice," he said. "So, I'm quite sure we'll have quorum. It's their job. You have to be on call."