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Toronto man files complaint against Rob Ford for racial slurs

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford returns to his City Hall office on June 30, 2014.

FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

A Toronto man has filed a formal complaint against Rob Ford, saying the mayor showed "discreditable conduct" in his alleged use of racial slurs.

Samuel Getachew, a 37-year-old Ethiopian-Canadian journalist, filed his complaint with the integrity commissioner last week, alleging the mayor broke city council's code of conduct concerning "discreditable conduct" and "improper use of influence." The complaint centres on racial slurs the mayor allegedly uttered in 2012 and earlier this year, according to media reports and former staff members in interviews with Toronto police.

"I'm a proud Torontonian, and I happen to be a black Canadian, and I've heard that the mayor uses words that I find very disturbing," Mr. Getachew said in an interview. "I believe that someone needed to go and tell him that what he was saying was hurtful to many of us."

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Mr. Getachew has a history of activism, including running for city council in 2010, and said he supports John Tory, though he is not officially affiliated with Mr. Tory's campaign.

A copy of Mr. Getachew's complaint has been forwarded to Mr. Ford's office, who has until July 29 to respond. Mr. Getachew is asking for the mayor to apologize and to attend anti-racism training. The mayor's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Getachew's complaint focuses on a St. Patrick's Day, 2012, incident in which Mr. Ford allegedly hurled racial slurs at a taxi driver, according to former staffer Isaac Ransom in an interview with police.

Also mentioned is a Toronto Star report that alleges the mayor used derogatory language to describe members of the Italian and black communities.

"The reason I focused on the n-word is because I happen to be a black Canadian," Mr. Getachew said.

"Whenever someone uses that word, it affects me … it's something that I would've never expected from someone in his position."

After returning from rehab in late June, the mayor issued a blanket apology "to everyone who was hurt by my words and my actions," but has not specifically addressed the racism allegations. In media interviews, he has blamed his remarks on substance abuse.

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But Mr. Getachew said the mayor needs to do more.

"If someone walks into the Bay and shoplifts while they're drunk, we don't give them an excuse and say, 'Oh, you were drunk,' " he said.

"Just because you're drunk or under the influence doesn't give you the excuse to use such classless or painful words. He's not just a part-time mayor, he's a full-time mayor."

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National Food Reporter

Ann Hui is the national food reporter at The Globe and Mail. Previously, she worked as a national reporter and homepage editor for theglobeandmail.com and an online editor in News. More

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