Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has finally addressed allegations that he uses crack cocaine, a week after two media organizations reported viewing video of the mayor smoking from a crack pipe.
Ford dodged questions about his behaviour for an entire week before making a statement on the subject Friday afternoon.
He appeared in front of cameras after members of his inner circle urged him to address the issue.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” Ford said. He suggested his lawyer had urged him not to discuss the matter publicly, which led to his silence.
Ford then attacked the Toronto Star, one of two news groups to have reported seeing the video, and accused them of lying about the video.
“I cannot comment on a video I have never seen or does not exist. It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without any evidence."
The statement came on the heels of a letter from Ford’s inner circle urging that he address the issue. "The allegations need to be addressed openly and transparently. We are encouraging the Mayor to address this matter so that we can continue to focus on serving the people of Toronto," the letter reads.
Ford’s comments were too little and too late for at least one city councillor, who told reporters that it was time for Ford to resign as mayor. Coun. Glen de Baeremaeker, a suburban Scarborough representative, told CP24 his allies on council would move on without him. Coun. Jaye Robinson, a member of Ford's executive committee, also told the network Ford's comments did not go far enough.
Until Friday, Ford’s only comment on the issue was that the situation was “ridiculous.” The story and his refusal to address the allegations have fueled international attention.
The night before his comment, Gawker announced that its plans to purchase the video in question had been compromised because they could no longer get in contact with the source.
It was quickly pointed out that while Ford said he does not use crack cocaine, he did not state that he has never smoked crack cocaine. He declined to address the purported video.
Ford refused to accept questions after his statement. His press secretary reportedly told media to “be respectful” during the scrum.
But Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, railed against the media after the statement and accused them of attacking his brother and his family. Doug Ford’s statement echoed his previous comments, which were derided as a horrific attempt to spin the situation and make the mayor appear to be the victim.
When reporters pointed out inaccuracies in Doug Ford’s comments on Friday, he threatened to shut down the media conference.
During his brief statement, Rob Ford thanked his brother and deputy mayor for their support and commented on his dismissal as the coach of a Toronto Catholic high school football team – the Don Bosco Eagles.
"I would like to thank and congratulate all the young men that I have had the opportunity to coach and improve their lived in the last 10 years at Don Bosco. I will continue to support Don Bosco in spirit,” he said.
(Photo courtesy The Canadian Press)
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