Mayor Rob Ford is calling recent allegations of videotaped drug use “absolutely not true.” Outside his Etobicoke home, Ford spoke to a group of waiting reporters, saying “Absolutely not true…it’s ridiculous.”
He then shook his head, got into his vehicle and drove away. Reporters at The Toronto Star said they have seen a video that appears to show Ford using drugs. US-based gossip website Gawker.com said last night that the video is being shopped around by a group of men allegedly involved in the drug trade. The Toronto Star said, however, it had no way to verify the video.
Deputy mayor Doug Holyday said he does not believe the shocking published reports. “Videos can be altered and drug dealers can’t be trusted. I don’t know what we’re dealing with here and until we do I don’t really have much to say,” Holyday said at city hall Friday. “I have not seen any indication of him using any substances like this or anything else for that matter,” he later added.
It’s just the latest in a series of scandals plaguing Ford’s administration that have distracted from issues like public transit, the expansion of Porter airlines and a now-quashed downtown casino. In March, the Star reported that Ford was asked to leave the Garrison Ball at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place because he appeared to be impaired. Earlier that month, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson alleged Ford made inappropriate comments towards her and then grabbed her buttocks – both of which Ford adamantly denies.
Meanwhile, Holyday also told reporters Friday morning that he believes the mayor is fit for the job but, “if these accusations were substantiated, that would change a lot of things.”
“I have no knowledge, I have not seen any indication of him using any substances like this or anything else for that matter,” Holyday said.
The Star said Friday it had seen the tape on May 3 but the paper waited to publish the story.
The Star said two of its reporters watched the video and said it appears to show Ford in a room, sitting in a chair and using drugs. The Star also alleges Ford makes several disparaging and crude remarks about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the high school football team he coaches.
A lawyer retained by Ford, Dennis Morris, told the newspaper that Thursday’s publication by the Gawker website of some details related to the video were “false and defamatory.” Holyday was also asked whether he thinks these recent allegations will hurt the city’s reputation.
“It certainly isn’t helpful [to the city’s reputation]. Whether you can blame the mayor or not depends on whether the story is true. I don’t know that and I don’t know that many of you do,” he said.
“There’s a large contingent of political people that want the mayor out of office. They don’t want him to make the changes that he’s been making. I agree with the changes that he’s been making and the agenda he’s put forward.”