Toronto Star, Gawker: Toronto mayor seen in video appearing to smoke from crack pipe
Video given to reporters by someone claiming they gave Rob Ford the drugs
Ford calls allegations "ridiculous" and "untrue"
Toronto’s mayor has purportedly been filmed on cellphone video smoking crack cocaine, the Toronto Star reported.
The footage appears to show Rob Ford “sitting in a chair, wearing a white shirt, top buttons open, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe,” the newspaper says.
Two of the newspaper’s reporters were shown the footage May 3 by someone who claims to have supplied the crack and shot the video. This person told the Star that they have previously given the mayor crack. The reporters watched the video three times.
The newspaper reports that the 90-second video allegedly shot last winter shows Ford “incoherent, trading jibes with an off-camera speaker who goads the clearly impaired mayor by raising topics including Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the high school football team Ford coaches.”
“I’m f—ing right wing,” Ford seems to mutter, the report says. “Everyone expects me to be right wing. I’m just supposed to be this great … “
The newspaper says that the mayor appears to refer to the players on the football team as “just f—ing minorities.”
The Star claims the video ends when the smartphone rings and the mayor says, “That phone better not be on.”
The video is being shopped around by a group of men involved in the drug trade, the Star reported Thursday.
The newspaper says that it has no way to verify the authenticity of the tape, and reports that its attempts to get comment from the mayor or his staff Thursday about the video were unsuccessful.
Thursday night, Ford’s chief of staff, Mark Towhey, would not listen to questions by the Star and hung up on a reporter, the newspaper reports.
CNN cannot confirm the video’s authenticity.
Ford spoke Friday morning to reporters, but did not answer questions. He denied allegations, calling them “ridiculous” and “not true.”
CNN has calls into the mayor and the mayor’s lawyer, Dennis Morris.
Also Thursday, the news site Gawker also ran a story about the video. A Gawker journalist says he was contacted by a tipster who described the tape, and the Gawker reporter flew to Canada to see the video in person. The journalist met with two men, one of whom showed the video – still on the phone – to the journalist, and then demanded money for the tape. The Gawker reporter did not pay for it and the man with the phone took off.
Morris called Gawker’s report “false and defamatory,” the Star reported.
Morris told the Star that it’s impossible to know from watching a video what a person is actually smoking or drinking.
By Friday morning, reporters swarmed Toronto’s City Hall hoping to interview the mayor, but instead interviewed deputy mayor Doug Holyday about the allegations. Holyday, the mayor’s closest political ally, said he had not heard from the mayor Friday and didn’t know where he was.
A reporter asked Holyday whether he believes the allegations are false.
“I hope so,” he replied. The mayor should address the accusations “sooner than later,” he said. “I would advise the mayor to speak to the media but I think he has to do it in a prepared way.”
Another reporter asked whether the scandal makes it possible Ford to continue to govern.
Holyday said he still has confidence in Ford, but said that he is willing to step up and replace the mayor if that becomes necessary.
Regardless, the scandal is hurting the city’s reputation as the Star and Gawker’s coverage is reposted around the world, the deputy mayor said.
“Whether you can blame the mayor or not blame the mayor depends on whether the story is true,” Holyday said. “I don’t know that and I don’t know that any of you do.”
He added: “Certainly we all know that videos can be altered and we certainly know that drug dealers can’t be trusted.”
CNN has been trying to interview the mayor for several months regarding the recommendation that Toronto create supervised injection centers for drug addicts. The mayor has declined all of CNN’s requests.
CNN’s Paula Newton contributed to this report.