Rob Ford used Toronto staff for illegal ads, inquiry finds

• Alleged misuse of tax dollars was likely ‘sexist and racist’: federal human rights commission • George Smitherman was Liberal MP for Parkdale-High Park and was briefly Ontario’s energy minister during 2009–2011 Liberal government

A former Toronto mayor may have used city employees to illegally sell advertisements, in an apparent effort to raise money for an event to celebrate the Toronto Economic Summit: his wife was hosting a maternity leave party for her daughter.

While mayor Rob Ford was attending the wedding of his sister in July last year, his wife, Renata Ford, was hosting a party in downtown Toronto for her daughter Brienna. In her promotion for the party, Renata Ford asked the mother of a woman who had given birth the previous week if she had taken her children’s vaccine for COVID-19. The woman did not return Renata Ford’s email.

Legislation requires all city employees to complete a three-day, written medical examination before their wages are docked, but the city’s human resources department did not follow the law. Renata Ford had hired a female employee who had “undoubtedly” attended the party, but, despite receiving a negative medical exam, had not been forced to take unpaid leave, but instead received several $1,350 payments during Renata Ford’s time as mayor, according to the Toronto Sun.

Renata Ford earned $39,780 as mayor.

Earlier this week, the Toronto Human Rights Commission upheld a complaint against Ford by some of his former and current staff, who filed a formal complaint after an internal hearing. The panel concluded that during the period of January to June in which Renata Ford’s employment at the city ended, she improperly transferred or received money through employees at the city’s human resources department.

The commission said she had breached two sections of the Ontario Human Rights Code, which were “alarmingly invasive” and indicated “a pattern of conduct which crossed a serious line.”

“As mayor, [Ford] was in control of a whole range of municipal resources, including employees employed at the city,” commissioner Susan Opler said. “His behaviour in this case, in contravention of the code, was clearly sexist and racist.”

Fred Ford, the mayor’s brother and press secretary, did not respond to requests for comment.

Ford became mayor in 2010 after ending up in a photo with infamous ex-cons flashing gang signs. He used City Hall as his private residence and claimed to have made $1.1m the first year. After the Globe and Mail broke the story, Ford resigned. His term as mayor ended with several members of his inner circle jailed for extortion, fraud and drug offences.

Since Ford’s term in office ended, he has been in rehab, and is pursuing a political comeback with Rob Ford for Mayor.

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