Stories in two of Canada's largest newspapers about Toronto's controversial mayor and his family have prompted complaints to the Ontario Press Council. Five formal complaints have been lodged against the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail for stories written about the Ford brothers and their alleged drug activity, according to Ontario Press Council executive director Don McCurdy.

Stories in two of Canada's largest newspapers about Toronto's controversial mayor and his family have prompted complaints to the Ontario Press Council. Five formal complaints have been lodged against the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail for stories written about the Ford brothers and their alleged drug activity, according to Ontario Press Council executive director Don McCurdy.

It's a “high” number of complaints for a given story, says McCurdy. There was one complaint each against the Star and the Globe, and three filed jointly against both newspapers. But there were actually “about three dozen” more people who phoned the council to complain but declined to officially file their concerns. The council receives about 100 complaints a year.

Last month, two Star reporters wrote about seeing a video that allegedly showed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, while an investigative Globe and Mail feature dug into councillor Doug Ford's alleged drug dealing past.

The official complaints question the existence of the purported Rob Ford crack video, and criticize the use of unnamed sources in the Globe's article. One complaint might be withdrawn, and McCurdy says he suspects not all of them will proceed. The Ontario Press Council is waiting for separate responses from both news organizations.

From there, the complainants can either accept the responses or push forward. In the latter case, the council will set a public hearing and all involved parties can voice their concerns. It has yet to be determined whether both news organizations will be at the same hearing — should the complainants decide to continue the process after receiving responses. But it's likely that all complaints against the Star and Globe will be heard on the same day, says McCurdy.

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After the hearing, the panel will file a decision for the council to consider. If the council supports the panel's decision, the news organization in question must publish it. .

The Ontario Press Council is the largest out of five in Canada and was founded in 1972.  It has 17 members representing the public and 150 news organizations.* 

 

 

*Clarification: A previous version of this article did not mention that the press council also represents the public.