Defamation lawsuit against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford dismissed
Published Thursday, December 27, 2012 5:16PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 27, 2012 7:24PM EST
An Ontario court judge has dismissed a $6-million defamation lawsuit against Mayor Rob Ford.
The decision, by Justice John MacDonald was released Thursday and is outlined in a 16-page ruling.
The libel lawsuit dates back to 2010, when restaurant proprietor George Foulidis filed claims that Ford ruined his reputation during the 2010 municipal election.
Then a mayoral candidate, Ford spoke out about a sole-sourced, untendered, 20-year lease deal between the city and Foulidis’ Boardwalk Café – a restaurant located near Ashbridges Bay on public land. The restaurant is operatedby Foulidis’ company, Tuggs Inc.
In an editorial meeting with the Toronto Sun, Ford commented that the deal “stinks to high heaven,” suggesting the deal was corrupt.
Ford was later paraphrased in an article published in the paper.
During the six-day trial held in mid-November, Foulidis alleges that Ford libelled him during the editorial board meeting with the Toronto Sun when he spoke on the Tuggs deal.
Ford’s lawyer Gavin Tighe raised the defence of fair comment and maintained that Ford’s words were aimed at the workings of city hall and not Foulidis.
In his reasons for judgement, MacDonald said Foulidis failed to prove that Ford’s comments to the Sun’s editorial board were directed at Foulidis specifically, or that Ford was trying to defame the business owner.
“Mr. Foulidis has failed to prove his assertion that he is either the face of Tuggs, or its alter ego,” MacDonald wrote.
The judge also rejected Foulidis’ testimony in court as unreliable, writing in his decision: “I find that the plaintiff attempted to mislead this court about his past fraudulent conduct.”
Foulidis gave the city a proposal for extending his 20-year lease for his restaurant for another 20 years rather than proceed with a tendering process.
City council eventually approved the deal, but Ford did not.
In a statement, Ford said he welcomed the decision by the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
“I will continue fighting to represent the best interests of Toronto taxpayers at City Hall. There is still a lot of work to be done and I will continue to focus on this."
Ford is currently appealing a decision that found him guilty of conflict of interest charges when he voted on a council matter related to his football charity. Ford was ordered to vacate his mayoral seat, but received a stay until the appeal is heard on Jan. 7.
File photo: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov. 26, 2012. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)