Rob Ford says Star story about intoxication ‘an outright lie’

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has dismissed as “an outright lie” allegations in a Toronto Star story that he appeared intoxicated and was asked to leave a gala dinner on Feb 23.

Ford made the comments Tuesday at a previously scheduled ceremony to honour Canadian boxing great George Chuvalo.

In its Tuesday edition, the Star reported that Ford was asked to leave the Garrison Ball — an annual dinner held at Toronto’s Liberty Grand hotel attended by senior armed forces personnel including Defence Minister Peter MacKay — because organizers were concerned he was impaired.

Some sources who attended the event told the Star that Ford spoke in a rambling, incoherent manner.

After handing the keys of the city to Chuvalo on Tuesday, Ford was asked about the contents of the Star story.

“It’s an outright lie, it’s the Toronto Star going after me again, and again and again,” said Ford. “They’re relentless. I’ll go head-to-head with the Toronto Star anytime.

“Let’s just wait till the election and we’ll see what happens. It’s just lies after lies after lies.”

Ford was also angry that reporters had used the event to ask questions about the allegations.

“It’s about George Chuvalo today,” he told reporters. “Let’s have some respect.”

The Star’s investigative story, which relied heavily on anonymous sources, reported that Ford was asked to leave the cocktail and dinner event. Coun. Paul Ainslie, confirmed to the newspaper that Ford was asked to leave. “I urged the mayor’s chief of staff, Mark Towhey, to have the mayor leave the event,” Ainslie told the Star.

The Star story says Ainslie refused to discuss why Ford was asked to leave. The mayor’s office has denied that Ford was asked to leave.

Rob Ford lashed out at the Toronto Star newspaper on Tuesday. Rob Ford lashed out at the Toronto Star newspaper on Tuesday. (CBC)

One event organizer quoted but not named by the Star told the newspaper that Ford “seemed either drunk, high or had a medical condition.”

Other sources who attended the ball told the Star that Ford did not appear to be intoxicated at the event.

The story quotes real estate agent Anita Springate-Renaud, who spoke to Ford briefly at the gala.

“He wasn’t in any way intoxicated, he seemed fine to me,” she told the Star.

Ford’s office has not responded to the CBC’s requests for comments in response to the Star story.

The Star story also reports that some members of the mayor’s staff have been concerned about Ford’s drinking for some time.

Sarah Thomson alleged that Mayor Rob Ford groped her while this picture was taken at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee event. Ford has denied the allegations.Sarah Thomson alleged that Mayor Rob Ford groped her while this picture was taken at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee event. Ford has denied the allegations. (Facebook)

They refer to previous incidents including an impaired driving charge in Florida in 1999 and an argument Ford had with a couple at a Maple Leafs game in 2006.

Earlier this month, Sarah Thomson, who ran against Ford in the 2010 mayoralty race before dropping out, alleged that Fordtouched her inappropriately and made a suggestive comment to her at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee meeting.

Thomson alleged that Ford groped her buttocks while the pair posed for pictures. She also wrote on a Facebook post that the mayor was “out of it” at the event.

Ford denied Thomson’s allegations.

Coun. Doug Ford appeared on a private radio station on Tuesday morning and denied his brother has a drinking problem. Doug Ford’s office has not responded to the CBC’s request for an interview.

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