Vigilante or victim? Mixed reaction over “trespassing” incident at Ford’s house

TORONTO, Ont. – Toronto police were called to Mayor Rob Ford’s home in Etobicoke Wednesday night after reports of a trespasser in his backyard.

Police confirmed officers were called after a neighbour spotted someone with a recording device in Ford’s yard.

The Toronto Star confirmed that the person was one of their reporters, Daniel Dale.

Bob Hepburn, director of communications for the Toronto Star, told 680News Daniel Dale was never on the mayor’s property.

“He was on public land. He was following up on a story we have about the mayor wanting to build a better security fence which would require using part of the city-operated park land,” said Hepburn.

He added that Dale had gone out to see the property in question and was not out there to harass the mayor.

“The Star did not harass the mayor. We have not harassed the mayor or his family in the past as has been alleged by some people,” Hepburn explained.

The reporter said he was standing around 10 metres away from Ford’s backyard fence where he was doing research on a nearby parkland the mayor is planning to buy.

“I can say this with certainty: I never came close to entering his [Ford’s] backyard,” said Dale, who was quoted on the Toronto Star website.

“I didn’t jump. I didn’t peer, didn’t touch the gate, never touched the fence, never made any attempt to look in windows to see people. I had no interest in talking to the Mayor or his family, talking to neighbours or anybody,” he told the media after speaking to police on Thursday.

In his recount of the evening’s events, Dale said he dropped his phone and recording device when confronted by the mayor before running away. He said Ford yelled and charged at him with one fist up.

“Usually, it is the media chasing Mayor Rob Ford. I never expected Mayor Ford to chase me. Nor to fear for my safety in his presence,” Dale added.

Outside his home, the mayor spoke to the media to express his frustration over what had transpired.

“Enough is enough,” Ford said. “It’s the safety of my family first. I have two young kids, my son and my daughter here. My wife’s here. What’s your first instinct? I want to catch this person.”

City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a Ford ally, said no other mayor has been harassed to this level.

“Whether it was private property or whether it wasn’t … what about the question of people just snapping pictures of your  family, how uncomfortable is that? And what makes that right?,” Mammoliti asked.

Councillor Doug Ford told CityNews it was a matter of security.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a security breech – if Rob is the mayor or if anyone else is the mayor,” he explained. “Having people looking up over your fence, you don’t know who it is back in the bushes.”

Councillor Joe Mihevc, a Ford foe, wanted to know why the mayor didn’t just call 911 and let police handle it.

“Really this is yet another sign that the mayor may be losing it,” Michev said. “This is not a good sign for the city of Toronto’s chief magistrate.”  

There has been no word on if the mayor will press charges.

In October 2011, Ford called 911 after Mary Walsh with the CBC’s “This Hour has 22 Minutes” confronted him in his driveway.

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