Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he was imitating a retired professional wrestler in a video in which he threatens to kill someone, denying that the target of his rant was his sister’s ex-boyfriend.
Ford is facing a lawsuit filed by Scott MacIntyre, who alleges the mayor conspired to have him attacked in jail to prevent his illicit behaviours from becoming publicly known.
In a statement of defence filed Wednesday, Ford says the footage was recorded without his consent or knowledge and shows him “discussing and imitating, as a joke, the pre-match rant of a professional wrestler.”
The private conversation happened at a friend’s home in anticipation of a charity event in 2013 that would pit Ford against a “well-known, retired professional wrestler,” he says in the document obtained by The Canadian Press.
“The defendant is mimicking for the purpose of joking with friends at a private gathering (admittedly poorly) that professional wrestler in the portions of the video referenced by the plaintiff,” the document reads.
Ford faced off in an arm-wrestling match with Hulk Hogan that summer.
The mayor previously said he was drunk at the time the video was taken and called the incident an embarrassing mistake, but he wouldn’t name the target of his rage.
The video is mentioned in MacIntyre’s statement of claim, in which he accuses the mayor of arranging for jail staff to facilitate the beating.
MacIntyre was sent to jail in early 2012 after being charged with threatening the mayor, for saying he would expose his “unsavoury activities,” MacIntyre says in his statement of claim.
MacIntyre alleges video surveillance in the area had been “inexplicably disabled” before the attack and the guards stationed to watch the area didn’t come to his aid, MacIntyre alleges.
It was through his attendance at various Ford family events and social gatherings that MacIntyre became aware of the mayor’s “habits and lifestyle,” he says in the document filed in January.
MacIntyre’s statement of claim and Ford’s statement of defence contain allegations not proven in court.
The mayor admitted late last year he has tried the illegal drug, likely while “in a drunken stupor.” He has also admitted to drinking too much on occasion, but denies being addicted to either substance.
In his statement of defence, Ford denies he “conspired with others to either injure the plaintiff or threaten to cause harm to the plaintiff in any way” or that MacIntyre has any intimate knowledge of his habits.
The idea that Ford is “somehow capable of manipulating the operation of such a correctional facility” is “beyond any rational possibility or air of reality,” the mayor says.
Ford says he has “no or insufficient knowledge of all other allegations” contained in the suit, which he condemns as a “frivolous and vexatious” publicity stunt.
The suit also names Ontario’s Ministry of Correctional Services, which is responsible for the province’s jails, as well as Payman Aboodowleh and Aedan Petros.
MacIntyre is seeking $1 million in damages from all of the defendants, plus $100,000 from each of them for aggravated, punitive and penal damages. He is also seeking another $100,000 from the ministry, who he alleges breached his charter right to life, liberty and security of the person.