Mayor Rob Ford looks down field after weekend radio play
Mayor Rob Ford heads into work at Toronto City Hall on Monday morning following a dramatic weekend in which he apologized on the radio for "mistakes" he’s made and demanded that the city’s police chief release an alleged drug video that he long said didn’t exist.
Last week, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair revealed investigators had seized electronic devices during a series of raids months ago and recently managed to restore a deleted video file, containing images of the mayor he said were "consistent" with widely-publicized reports.
The Toronto Star and the U.S. website Gawker had each reported in May that someone had been shopping a video that allegedly showed Ford using crack cocaine. The mayor denied both the video’s existence and using crack cocaine.
On Sunday, Ford called upon the police chief to release the video so the public could see "whatever this video shows" and judge its meaning for themselves.
"I am asking you to release this video now," Ford said on his weekly radio show on Newstalk 1010.
But the police have said it is the courts that will decide if the video will be made public.
During Ford’s two-hour Sunday afternoon show, the mayor also made vague apologies for his behaviour on selected occasions, including getting "hammered" at the Taste of the Danforth street festival and seeing things get "a little out of control" on St. Patrick’s Day last year.
Ford answered calls on the radio show but ducked a direct question about whether he used drugs, as the reports about the video had previously alleged.
"I can’t comment on a video I have not seen. I have asked Chief Blair to release this video immediately. I want to see it now," Ford said in response to a caller who asked the mayor “what drugs you’ve ingested through a glass pipe."
Bob Reid of Veritas Communications believes the strategy the mayor employed on his weekend radio program largely worked.
"Based on the political calculus, I would say it was an effective day for him," Reid told CBC News in an interview.
Reid said Ford’s radio remarks were aimed squarely at his supporters to assure them that while he is sorry for his mistakes, he is not giving up.
"It’s standard political math. You’ve got your core supporters who you need to maintain at any cost; you’ve got those that you’ll never win in a million years, so there’s no sense losing sleep over them; and then there’s the bunch in the middle who might come your way, who might not," said Reid.
"[Sunday] was all about the first group, the Ford Nation supporters, stopping the bleeding, making sure that nobody else leaves the tent and we’ll worry about the swing-voters down the road, it’s a year out to the election, there’s lots of time for that."
On the weekend, Ford once again said his name will be the first registered name on the ballot for next year’s municipal election. The mayor has said he expects the campaign will be "a bloodbath."
Since being elected as mayor three years ago, Ford, 44, has found himself struggling at times to lead council on key issues.
"Even before this latest raft of serious allegations came up, the mayor was very isolated on council, it was very difficult for him to move forward substantial pieces of policy that kind of came from his office," the CBC’s Jamie Strashin said Sunday.
With the video-related cloud hanging over his head and increasing pressure to take a leave of absence, Strashin said the mayor may find it even more difficult to make things happen at city hall.
"He’s virtually been told by everyone with the exception of his brother and a couple of other people that he needs to go away and get help, [but] he’s rejected that," said Strashin, predicting that Ford will counter that pressure by continuing to focus on individual constituent matters, rather than big-picture issues.
"In terms of his ability to get things done on the policy front at city hall, I think that’s going to be very, very difficult going forward," Strashin said.
Ford spent years working as a city councillor for a ward in Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb where he lives with his family, before he was elected mayor in 2010.