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Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, photographed in his office at the family business in Etobicoke, Ont., in February, 2011. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, photographed in his office at the family business in Etobicoke, Ont., in February, 2011. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing Add to ...

This investigative report reveals that:

  • Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, sold hashish for several years in the 1980s.
  • Another brother, Randy, was also involved in the drug trade and was once charged in relation to a drug-related kidnapping.
  • Their sister, Kathy, has been the victim of drug-related gun violence.

In the 1980s, anyone wanting to buy hashish had to know where to go. And in central Etobicoke, the wealthy Toronto suburb where Mayor Rob Ford grew up, one of those places was James Gardens. In the evening, the sports cars often wound along Edenbridge Drive, past the gated homes and the lawn-bowling pitches, until they reached the U-shaped parking lot. By nightfall, the public park was a hash drive-thru. One former street dealer, whom we will call “Justin,” described the scene as “an assembly line.”

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There were usually a number of dealers to choose from, some of them supplied by a mainstay at James Gardens – a young man with the hulk-like frame and mop of bright blond hair: Doug Ford. “Most people didn’t approach Doug looking for product. You went to the guys that he supplied. Because if Doug didn’t know you and trust you, he wouldn’t even roll down his window,” Justin said.

Today, Mr. Ford is a member of Toronto’s city council – and no ordinary councillor. First elected in 2010 as his brother was swept into the mayor’s office, he has emerged as a truly powerful figure at City Hall –– trying to overhaul plans for Toronto’s waterfront less than a year after arriving. He also has higher aspirations, and has said he wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, Doug Ford Sr., by running in the next provincial election as a Conservative.

Meanwhile, he serves as his brother’s de facto spokesman. As Toronto is gripped by allegations that its mayor was captured on a homemade video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine and his office descends into disarray – his chief of staff was fired on Thursday – Doug Ford has been the only person to mount a spirited public defence of his largely silent sibling. On Friday, after the Mayor finally made a statement about the accusation, he was the one who fielded questions from the press.

Well before the events of the past week, The Globe and Mail began to research the Ford brothers in an effort to chronicle their lives before rising to prominence in Canada’s largest city. Over the past 18 months, it has sought out and interviewed dozens of people who knew them in their formative years.

What has emerged is a portrait of a family once deeply immersed in the illegal drug scene. All three of the mayor’s older siblings – brother Randy, 51, and sister Kathy, 52, as well as Doug, 48 – have had ties to drug traffickers.

Ten people who grew up with Doug Ford – a group that includes two former hashish suppliers, three street-level drug dealers and a number of casual users of hash – have described in a series of interviews how for several years Mr. Ford was a go-to dealer of hash. These sources had varying degrees of knowledge of his activities: Some said they purchased hash directly from him, some said they supplied him, while others said they observed him handling large quantities of the drug.

The events they described took place years ago, but as mayor, Rob Ford has surrounded himself with people from his past. Most recently he hired someone for his office whose long history with the Fords, the sources said, includes selling hashish with the mayor’s brother.

The Globe wrote to Doug Ford outlining what the sources said about him, and received a response from Gavin Tighe, his lawyer, who said the allegations were false. “Your references to unnamed alleged sources of information represent the height of irresponsible and unprofessional journalism given the gravely serious and specious allegations of substantial criminal conduct.”

There’s nothing on the public record that The Globe has accessed that shows Doug Ford has ever been criminally charged for illegal drug possession or trafficking. But some of the sources said that, in the affluent pocket of Etobicoke where the Fords grew up, he was someone who sold not only to users and street-level dealers, but to dealers one rung higher than those on the street. His tenure as a dealer, many of the sources say, lasted about seven years until 1986, the year he turned 22. “That was his heyday,” said “Robert,” one of the former drug dealers who agreed to an interview on the condition he not be identified by name.

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