Coun. Rino Bortolin made a formal apology to council tonight for his choice of words in a Windsor Star article last year, but will press forward with a judicial review of the report that recommended the sanction against him.

"I apologized for that comment the day it was published,” Bortolin started as he addressed council at the first meeting at the new city hall Monday night. “I apologized many times since, and now by formal motion from my council colleagues, I apologize again."

The apology is a result of the sanction imposed by council after colleague Jo-Anne Gignac filed a complaint with the city's integrity commissioner, Bruce Elman.

Bortolin was quoted in the Windsor Star, saying, “When I continually have to go back to residents and say there is no money for a $3,000 alley light where that person got beat up and raped last week, it’s hard.”

Bortolin says he made the comments while relaying the frustration felt by residents who felt the city was spending money on big ticket items like Bright Lights Windsor and the restoration of a street car, while neglecting things like alley lights.

In May, after a months-long investigation, Elman found that Coun. Bortolin violated the code of conduct not only with his choice of words, but also because he spoke out against a decision of council after the matter was dealt with.

Bortolin admits he could have chosen different words to get his point across, but had no intention of fabricating an incident. He notes there has since been a documented sexual assault in a downtown alley as well as a homicide. His real contention is with Elman’s finding that limits a councillor’s ability to dissent and speak out against city decisions.

"My apology stands. I regret my choice of words,” he said. “But the anti-democratic sentiment that running through the integrity commissioner’s ruling, a ruling that went far beyond my comment and actually sought to set limits on political debate in Windsor, that I profoundly disagree with."

“Almost sorry, not sorry,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens after the meeting. “He did apologize for the words he used, which is great.”

But the mayor said Bortolin’s contention that the ruling limits his right to free speech is clearly stated in the code of conduct, which he signed at the beginning of his council term in 2014.

“He signed a document and agreed to the code of conduct of the City of Windsor and there was no issue with the code of conduct or the way it was framed or written until he was called to task for one of his comments and now he’s taking issue with it.”

Bortolin says he's still seeking a judicial review of the integrity commissioner's decision.

“I look forward to seeing the results of the judicial review,” said Dilkens.