Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is negotiating with police through his lawyer for a private showing of the video that apparently shows him smoking crack cocaine.
The discussions include several other “related topics,” including a request by investigators to question Mr. Ford, his lawyer Dennis Morris told The Globe and Mail.
“I’m in the middle of discussions with the police in reference to that, but whatever it is has very serious conditions on it,” Mr. Morris said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m trying to do my best to get rid of conditions.”
News of the negotiations comes as Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, challenge Chief Bill Blair to publicly release the video. The mayor’s closest supporters continue to meet with him behind closed doors urging him to take a leave, with several key political allies openly expressing frustration. And the mayor continues to lose staff, with policy adviser Brooks Barnett resigning Wednesday.
Chief Blair, who revealed the force had recovered the recording last week, has said it is evidence in a court case against a friend of Mr. Ford and cannot be publicly released.
Reports of the video in May set off a firestorm that culminated Tuesday in Mr. Ford’s unexpected admission that he has smoked crack cocaine. It was a revelation that took members of the mayor’s inner circle by surprise, including Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who was at his desk at city hall when a member of the mayor’s staff came by to tell him what had just happened.
“I was gobsmacked,” Mr. Kelly said.
What followed was an intense closed-door discussion of Mr. Ford’s advisers, followed by a second announcement by the mayor – this time to say he would remain in office.
Mr. Kelly, a student of history and a veteran of politics, says everyone faces crossroads in their lives, but few confront the kind Rob Ford is staring down.
In a meeting Tuesday that lasted more than an hour, Mr. Kelly joined the mayor in his office with his chief of staff Earl Provost, his brother Doug and Councillor David Shiner. Three options were put on the table during that meeting: take a leave and get help, resign, or stay in office, said Mr. Kelly, who Wednesday met with the mayor again to urge him to take a leave.
Mr. Kelly said when he left the meeting Tuesday he felt he had said all he could. “I’m not sure there was a stone that was left unturned,” he said.
Mr. Morris said he also spoke with his client during that period, and the mayor did not consider stepping aside. “Never, ever, ever, ever,” Mr. Morris said.
Mr. Morris spoke on the phone with Mr. Ford between the scrum when he admitted to using crack cocaine and his more formal news conference. “I can’t tell you what happened in that room, except I know his mindset is he’s the type of guy who will not resign because this job is his life,” he said. “He just wants to move forward in life and help his constituents.… He’s just steadfast in his resolve.”
Mr. Kelly chose to watch the mayor’s announcement on television rather than at his side and struggles for words when asked for his reaction. But his response is unequivocal when asked about the mayor’s declaration that he has “nothing left to hide.”
“Geez, I hope he is right,” Mr. Kelly said. “He is down on one knee attempting to rise up. If something else comes out – I think it is over.”
Mr. Morris had dinner with his client at an Italian restaurant in Etobicoke after the bombshell announcement. During the dinner, he said, Mr. Ford was approached by well-wishers wanting to shake his hand and have photos taken with him.
“Nothing’s changed. So the people who aren’t friendly towards him are the same and vice versa,” he said.
Mr. Morris said the mayor was in good spirits. “He just felt the weight of the world was taken from his shoulders and he did what he had to do,” he said.
Mr. Morris would not say whether he discussed the possibility of Mr. Ford going into a rehabilitation program. However, he said Mr. Ford needed more “balance” in his life.
“As far as he’s concerned, he’s now turning the page and getting back to work,” Mr. Morris said.
But Wednesday at City Hall, a parade of colleagues pleaded with the mayor either in person or through the media to take a leave from office.
“We are all concerned about the impact on his family, his personal health, his ability to lead the city,” Mr. Kelly said. “I will try my best to help him and help my colleagues on council and I am praying there is nothing else coming out.”