Sorry seems to be the hardest word: four lame city council apologies
Given the number of times Rob Ford has had to say he’s sorry over his political career, it’s odd that he doesn’t yet have it down. This week, integrity commissioner Janet Leiper (whose job, incidentally, Ford has made noises about eliminating) slammed the mayor for his latest apology, which she says didn’t show enough remorse for some offside comments he made last spring. Of course, Ford’s not the only Toronto politician to issue a flimsy apology of late—we’ve counted four in the past month alone. Below, we break down half-baked mea culpas from the mayor, his brother Doug Ford, Giorgio Mammoliti and Gord Perks.
The crime: After David McKeown, Toronto’s medical officer of health, recommended a city-wide speed limit reduction in April, Ford called the doctor’s $290,000 salary “an embarrassment” and promised to “look into it.” Leiper released a report on Thursday saying that a smear on a city staff member’s professional reputation broke the city code of conduct.
The apology: Ford wrote a last-minute “letter of retraction,” which Leiper soundly rejected on Monday. She wrote that the letter included “no words of apology, regret, remorse or contrition” and gives “an overall impression of someone who is blaming others and minimizing his own behaviour.” It also spelled McKeown’s name wrong. Burn.
Sincerity rating (out of 10): -1. A letter of retraction is not an apology, and the misspelling is just bush league.
The crime: Like Rob, Doug targeted McKeown on the brothers’ radio show, asking, “Why does he still have a job?”
The apology: Unlike Rob, Doug’s statement of contrition actually included the word “apologize.” On AM640 on Thursday, Doug said, “If I’ve offended the medical officer of health in any way, I do apologize.” When host Arlene Bynon asked him if he meant it, he replied, “You know I feel sometimes you live in a socialist state [where] they force you to say something even though you don’t believe in what you’re saying.”
Sincerity rating: 3. That socialist state remark undercuts Doug’s admissions that he “spoke out of line” and “could have used better words.” However, the apology was good enough to get Leiper’s approval.
The crime: At a council meeting in early October, Mammo rose and accused the city ombudsman of releasing a politically motivated report about the involvement of the mayor’s office in city appointments. The speaker demanded an apology, and Mammo refused and made to leave the chambers—but he stopped at the back to speak with reporters, prompting a heated confrontation with fellow councillor Gord Perks (more on that below).
The apology: When council resumed after lunch, Mammo apologized—sort of. He said he never meant that the ombudsman was politically driven, only that her report was, adding, “To anyone who has misconstrued or taken that out of context, I apologize.” He had nothing to say to Perks, save that had Perks touched him, “I would have kicked him in the nuts and the face at the same time.” (To which we respond, how, exactly?)
Sincerity rating: 2. Accusing listeners of misconstruing his words in the middle of an apology is bad form.
The crime: When Mammoliti failed to leave council chambers, Perks got right in his face, pointed aggressively at him and said, “You’re a bully. You’re trying to destroy the public service in this city. Get out of here. You said you were leaving the chamber. Leave the chamber.”
The apology: In council, he said, “I should have remembered to treat this member with more respect and my fellow councillors with more respect. I apologize,” though he told reporters that “somebody has to stand up to [Mammoliti] and tell him no.”
Sincerity rating: 5. We bet he’s privately still itching to shove Mammoliti, but his public apology was reasonably thorough.