Jon Stewart took aim at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and ongoing allegations of drug use Tuesday night, in a Daily Show segment that detailed some of the Mayor’s most outrageous gaffes and jokingly referred to crack-smoking as “Canada’s national pastime.”
Mr. Stewart began the segment on his popular comedy show with footage of some of the Mayor’s blunders over the years: an image of Mr. Ford with his arm around a neo-Nazi, and video of him referring to the city’s Asian population as “Oriental people” who “work like dogs” and are “slowly taking over.”
“After repeated instances of this type of behaviour, you’ve got to wonder: Is this dude on crack?” Mr. Stewart asked. “Well ... funny story.”
Last week, reports emerged in both American gossip website Gawker and the Toronto Star that a group of Toronto men is shopping around a video that allegedly shows Mr. Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. Mr. Ford has since dismissed the reports as “ridiculous,” but has so far refused to address the allegations in any detail.
“Hey, hey, don’t judge him,” Mr. Stewart joked on Tuesday night’s show. “Maybe he’s cleaning up the city – by smoking all the crack in it.”
He also made light of Mr. Ford’s lawyer’s defence thus far. Even if a video does exist, “how can you indicate what the person is actually doing or smoking?” lawyer Dennis Morris said in a statement to the Toronto Star .
“I mean, that clear pipe in his hand could be anything,” Mr. Stewart said. “From asthma medicine to Wonder Woman’s famed invisible pipe of truth to a Waterford Crystal kazoo – to crack. It could be crack.”
Later in the segment, Mr. Stewart brought on his correspondents, Canadian comedians Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, who referred to crack cocaine as “Canada’s most cherished pastime,” and claimed that Canadians regularly trade sexual favours for the drug.
“My mind is blown right now,” Mr. Stewart responded by saying, adding that he thinks of Canada as a nation of polite people and clean streets.
“Sure, yeah, it’s all of that on the surface,” Mr. Jones interrupted to say. “And just under the surface is a thick layer of crack.”
The Daily Show segment was all the buzz at Toronto City Hall Wednesday morning. Councillor Michael Thompson said he had only heard about it, but Toronto appeared to be on the international stage “for all the wrong reasons.”
“I’m not pleased,” said Mr. Thompson, who is chair of Toronto’s economic development committee and vice-chair of the Toronto Police Services Board.
Mr. Thompson said there are many questions that need to be addressed and the city deserves answers.
“This is the chief magistrate of our great city and it’s a problem,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday also met with reporters Wednesday morning and reiterated his support for the mayor. However, he conceded the latest allegations “haven’t been positive and it’s unfortunate.”
“Toronto is a great place and we want it to be shown around the world as a great place,” he said.
Mr. Holyday said he’s advised Mr. Ford to speak with the media but the Mayor has yet to make up his mind.
“He’s always thinking about it,” Mr. Holyday said.
Gawker editor John Cook launched an online campaign (dubbed the “Rob Ford Crackstarter”) last week in an attempt to raise $200,000 to purchase the video.
Since the campaign’s launch on Friday, it’s already reached over half its goal, with over $106,000 raised as of Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, Mr. Cook added a list of “perks’ for contributors, ranging from an e-book of Mr. Ford’s most outrageous moments for $5, to the actual iPhone on which the video was allegedly recorded in exchange for a $10,000 donation.
Sarah MacLachlan, president of House of Anansi Press (which is offering up the Ford e-books), said that the company is involved because she feels the campaign is an interesting exercise in pulling together public opinion.
“It’s a barometer to watch what people are thinking,” she said. “Whether or not they get enough money to buy the video wasn’t so much our concern. I think what we were interested to see was how many people are engaged enough by this topic and feel this is the only way they’re going to find out the truth, or get access to information that will maybe lead to the truth.”