Move over sponsorship scandal, and forget Watergate, too.
This is Toronto’s Chairgate. Or maybe that should be Swivelgate.
On Friday, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti released his “Dirty Half Dozen” list of council “hypocrites” — councillors he says turned their backs on mayor Rob Ford in council chambers on Nov. 14, 2013, during a time of need, but had the audacity to attend his funeral on Wednesday. But just hours later, pictures and videos surfaced online that some argue show the Ward 7 councillor also turned his back on Ford as he spoke to a wall of turned chairs.
“It’s not true,” Mammoliti said in an interview Saturday morning. “They are just on the defensive for what they did and that I called them out on it.”
Call them out he did.
In a news release with the title, “If I Die Tomorrow, These 6 People Need Not Attend the Funeral,” Mammoliti said Shelley Carroll, Adam Vaughan, Gord Perks, Janet Davis, Joe Mihevc and Josh Matlow displayed “the worst case of hypocrisy” he’s ever witnessed. “... the vermin that dwell in the underbelly of Toronto were out in full force in an exemplary display of the wickedest behaviour mankind can exhibit.”
“These people went to the disgusting extent of turning their back in council at Rob Ford’s most vulnerable point in his life,” he continued. “I could not believe what I saw in the days after his death from these people. Even God was squirming in his own house with their presence (at Ford’s funeral).”
Now Mammoliti has been called out himself, but he vehemently denies he participated in the chair-turning protest.
“Absolutely not. I have seen the picture and video and that is not what it shows,” he said. “I swivel in that chair and often lean that way. If I wanted to turn my back to Rob, I would have turned my chair all the way to the right.”
He said if the “false accusation” persists, he may pursue legal action.
“Clearly I wasn’t part of that. I was one of the only ones who defended Rob when they took away his (mayoral) powers,” he said. “I don’t like to stare at people when they are talking. What I was looking at was them and what they were doing.”
He said what they were doing disgusted him.
One thing he said he does remember is how composed Ford was in that moment.
“He just kept focus on making his point. He as in the middle of his struggles but was trying to do his job.”
As for criticism of his own on-again/off-again membership on the executive committee, Mammoliti said it was normal politics and Ford understood.
“We were very close. Like siblings, sometimes we had squabbles, but I never turned my back on him.”