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Rob Ford not invited back to military ball one year after 'agitated' display

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends an executive council meeting in Toronto, March 19, 2014.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

It has been one year since Mayor Rob Ford caused a stir with his "agitated" behaviour at a Toronto military ball, but he will not make a repeat performance.

Mr. Ford has not been invited to this weekend's Garrison Ball. This year's request for a representative of the city at Saturday's charity dinner went to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly's office, said John Wright, chair of the ball's program committee.

"We simply followed protocol," Mr. Wright said. The request was made after most of Mr. Ford's authority was transferred to the deputy by council in November, and that is why the invitation was sent to Mr. Kelly's office, he said.

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A source close to the event said organizers decided not to invite the mayor after a "long debate," but Mr. Wright countered that the discussion was about how to handle the invitation "based on the new logistics of city hall."

"We wanted to make sure that no one was offended," he said. "It was a little tricky."

Mr. Wright noted it is not traditional for Toronto's mayor to be at the event, although the city is usually represented, and former mayor David Miller attended at least once.

Mr. Ford specifically was invited for the past two years, and attended last year because of the anniversary of the War of 1812, Mr. Wright said.

After last year's dinner, Councillor Paul Ainslie confirmed that he asked Mr. Ford's staff to have him leave after several people expressed concerns about his behaviour. The mayor's office denied Mr. Ainsilie's version of events at the time.

Since then, police documents released by the courts have shed more light on the event.

They indicate the mayor was driven to the dinner by Alessandro Lisi, a friend who now faces drug and extortion charges. Mr. Ford arrived with his two children and another friend, Bruno Bellissimo, in the car.

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Former members of Mr. Ford's staff told police the mayor arrived late and appeared "flustered, agitated and flushed."

After he arrived a staffer was allegedly asked to take the mayor's children to McDonald's while his then chief of staff Mark Towhey tried to convince Mr. Ford to "do a quick walk through, shake some hands and not speak to anyone," police documents say.

When asked on Tuesday evening whether he was invited or planned to attend this year's ball, the mayor did not respond.

With a report from Ann Hui

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