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Police chief comes to aid of Ford over 911 call controversy

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaking to The Globe and Mail on June 24, 2011, following the release of a report on the police action during the G20.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has come to the defence of Rob Ford, issuing a statement that backs the mayor's version of what took place during calls to emergency operators this week.

Mr. Ford has apologized for losing his cool in a conversation with a 911 dispatcher, acknowledging that in his frustration he used profanities that he now regrets. As part of that apology he said that he used the "F-word," but denied a CBC report that he used "the bitch word," in his calls to the dispatcher on Monday morning.

In a statement issued late Friday, Chief Blair said he felt the need to comment because of the "serious allegations" that are being made.

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"The content of those conversations has been misrepresented by what are claimed to be 'several anonymous sources,' presumably from within the TPS, in which case I have to set the record straight," the statement reads. "I have listened to the three emergency calls. The mayor did not use the word 'bitches,' attributed to him by those 'several anonymous sources.' The mayor did not describe himself as the original account claimed."

The story of the Toronto mayor's 911 call has gone viral this week, making headlines across the country. Mr. Ford called emergency workers after being confronted in his driveway by CBC comedian Mary Walsh dressed as a warrior princess as part of a gag for the show This Hour has 22 Minutes.

Mr. Ford said he has never watched the show and did not recognize Ms. Walsh's character and that's why he retreated inside his Etobicoke home and called emergency services.

"I was frustrated. If I offended someone, I apologize," the mayor told reporters Thursday. "Put yourself in my shoes… I had to get down to City Hall. Maybe I shouldn't have used the F-word."

In his statement, the police chief says "Emergency calls involve people who are under stress, trying to communicate with emergency operators."

He also notes that there have been no complaints by any members of the TPS about the 911 conversation.

Opponents of the mayor have called on Mr. Ford to release a copy of the 911 call in order to clear the air. As the person who initiated the emergency call, the mayor can request a copy of the tape, but when asked this week to release the tape, he said he was not aware that he could request a copy.

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A spokeswoman for Mr. Ford said Friday that the mayor's office has no further comment on the matter.

In a news release Friday evening, the CBC said it continues to stand by its story.

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