Toronto’s mayor denied accusations of drug use, breaking a week-long silence over a raging media storm surrounding a video that allegedly shows him partaking of crack-cocaine.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” Rob Ford said during a brief appearance before reporters. “As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have not seen, or does not exist.”
The denial came after members of Toronto City Council’s executive commitee urged him to respond to the claims, which remain unsubstantiated. “We are encouraging the Mayor to address this matter so that we can continue to focus on serving the people of Toronto,” committee members said in an open letter. Mayor Ford’s statement caps a dramatic week in Toronto politics. Late on Wednesday he was abruptly fired from his other position as chief volunteer coach for a local school soccer team. Then on Thursday he sacked his chief of staff. No clear explanations have been offered for either event.
The existence of the videotape was reported at the end of last week by the Toronto Star, which has a history of criticising Mr Ford, and by Gawker, the gossip website. Both outlets said they have seen the footage and that it indeed shows Mr Ford happily inhaling from what looks like a crack pipe. The video was allegedly shot by the dealers who claimed to have sold the drugs to the mayor. They have asked for $200,000 (£130,000) to release the tape.
Sources told CBC News that Mr Ford’s chief of staff Mark Towhey was sent packing from his job on Thursday for repeatedly telling Mr Ford that it was time to “get help”.