The morning after the Toronto Star and the U.S. gossip website Gawker alleged that journalists with both organizations had viewed a homemade video of the mayor smoking crack, a throng of reporters waited outside his home. Mr. Ford walked past them, uttered only four words – “these allegations are ridiculous” – and hopped into his SUV.
After driving only a few feet, he pulled to the side of the road and rolled down his window to chat with a man in a sunglasses and a blue shirt, Mr. Price. Moments later, Mr. Price appeared again, this time standing between videographers and Mr. Ford as they tried to film the mayor at the gas station at the end of his street.
Since he arrived at City Hall, the mayor’s office has said almost nothing about what Mr. Price, called director of logistics and operations, is there to do. Concerning the hiring of Mr. Price, Doug Ford told Globe and Mail city hall reporter Elizabeth Church that “you can’t teach loyalty.”
Mr. Price first appeared in the office mere days after The Toronto Star revealed that the mayor had been asked to leave a military benefit gala by Councillor Paul Ainslie allegedly because he appeared intoxicated.
A few months before Mr. Price became a public official, he was approached by a Star reporter covering a football game being played by the high-school team coached by Mr. Ford. The reporter quoted Mr. Price as saying that he had coached the mayor in high school, and ever since he has been described in media reports as Rob Ford’s former football coach turned aide.
However, four former dealers who spoke with The Globe described Mr. Price as a participant in Doug Ford’s hash business in the 1980s.
Both men attended Scarlett Heights Collegiate Institute, where they played football and hockey. “Michael,” a former street-level dealer, said he recalls being approached by a young David Price, who told him that Doug Ford had come into a large supply of hash. “I remember buying a quarter-pound,” he said.
“Robert,” once a large-scale supplier, called Mr. Price “Dougie’s close ally” and described their hash business as “a partnership.”
“Justin,” a former street dealer, said: “They were two peas in a pod. They were both big, tough boys. It just became a natural thing.”
He added: “Doug brought the supply, and Dave brought the demand.”
According to Mr. Price’s LinkedIn page, which has been taken down since he joined the mayor’s office, he was Doug Ford’s campaign manager in 2010, and graduated from York University in 1987 with a degree in economics and international relations.
Following that, he worked for decades at State Street Canada, a financial services company that provides investment management for institutional investors, such as pension and mutual funds. One former colleague described him as hard-working, very oriented toward customer service, and extremely opinionated when it came to politics. He left the company in 2011.
Mr. Price did not respond to several requests for comment.
Rob Ford was not a player in the Etobicoke drug trade. Several sources said they saw him around his brothers as they were doing business, but they said he didn’t seem to be involved in a significant way.
It is difficult to determine what it was like for him growing up in this environment. His spokesman did not respond to requests for interviews. His closest friends from high school declined interview requests. Generally, it was only people who were on his periphery who agreed to speak.
As a teenager, the future mayor committed to football like it was a religion. He co-captained his junior team at Scarlett Heights Collegiate, which went a dismal 1-5 in the regular season one year, but shocked the league in the playoffs by making it to the championship and upsetting undefeated Etobicoke Collegiate. A yearbook photograph shows that “Robbie” – as he was known then – wore his leather championship jacket for at least three years after that victory.
He once played on Etobicoke’s all-star team, a mixed bag of players from different high schools that was assembled in the summer to face off against all-star teams from Toronto’s other boroughs.
It was a short and intense two weeks of back-to-back practices, which was necessary to inject cohesion into a mixed bag of young men who didn’t know each other. Before each practice, they were told to run a mile. If they completed the run in under six minutes, they didn’t have to complete it again for the rest of training camp. But if they failed, they had to keep running it at the start of every practice until they came in under the mark.