Martha Rogers calls out John Tory over claim Rogers dispute only occupies 'spare time'
TORONTO -- A member of the Rogers family locked in a bitter battle over control of the telecommunications company is disputing Mayor John Tory's claim that he only spends his free time working on matters related to the company.
Tory spoke with CP24 Tuesday about his involvement in the battle over control of Rogers Communications. The heated dispute at Rogers has seen Edward Rogers pitted against his mother Loretta and sisters Melinda and Martha over the future of the telecom giant.
The mayor said he does the work in his spare time in order to honour a commitment he made to the late Ted Rogers and in the interests of the thousands of people employed by the company in Toronto.
But responding to his comments in a post on social media late Tuesday, Martha Rogers took issue with that claim and said a meeting last week lasted the better part of a day.
“Tory says work to mediate Rogers dispute occurs in his 'spare time' − Actually no, that’s not the truth, John,” Rogers wrote. “We were there 9-10 hours, outside of you leaving for 45 mins to do a press conference. Unless the Mayor has Thursdays off…? #EdRogersSaga.”
Tory’s office said in an email that including Thursday, he spent "several" hours on Rogers matters last week.
Most of the voting shares in Rogers Communications are controlled by a family trust. Tory is a member of the advisory committee for that trust. He has a long personal history with the Rogers family and with Rogers Communications, where he ran two different subsidiaries in the 90s.
Responding to the criticism Wednesday, Tory told reporters that his time spent on the Rogers trust never comes before his duties as mayor.
“I think I made a commitment to my friend who had such a huge role in my life and his family who've been so important to my life, to my business career and to my personal life, that I would try to help with some of the difficulties they might experience, that perhaps he contemplated,” Tory said. “And I have done so at no expense to my service to the people of Toronto and to my complete attention to my job.”
Tory said he has often worked seven days a week at his mayoral duties, including many 6 a.m. start times and late nights, especially throughout the pandemic.
“I'm not asking anybody to thank me for that. I'm just saying that I think people should put these things in perspective,” he said.
In an email to CP24, the mayor’s spokesperson Don Peat noted that the mayor’s press conference last Thursday was about an affordable housing initiative that could see 12,000 more affordable homes built within the next five years.
“The Mayor has always been public about his role on the Rogers trust which he undertook as a moral obligation to his late friend, Ted Rogers, and he has declared a conflict every time an issue related to Rogers has come to City Council whether or not he is required to do so under the Act,” Peat said.
Tory receives monetary compensation for his role on the Rogers trust, but the figure is not public.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Tory did not confirm a figure, but said he is compensated in line with what others receive in such a role.
“I am compensated for this role as other people are, who are in similar kinds of positions with trusts because there is a responsibility and the liability that is associated with that,” he said. “And I will just say that I have done my very best to make sure, as is my responsibility to do, that people can have confidence in me and in my integrity.”
Martha Rogers has been furiously tweeting about the battle over Rogers for the past week and has referred to Tory as a member of Edward Rogers’ “old boys club.”
Tory told CP24 Tuesday that he was working to try and resolve the battle at Rogers in order to fulfill a commitment to the late Ted Rogers to “help look after his family and try to keep them in a position where they could have a good business going and keep thousands of people employed in the city of Toronto.”
“In my spare time really I have been to a couple of meetings and I try to settle something down that I think would be in the best interest of thousands of people who work for the company not to mention their customers,” he said.