The public could soon learn what Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s current and former staff members told police detectives investigating a video that allegedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
Justice Ian Nordheimer is weighing written submissions from lawyers representing several media organizations, including The Globe and Mail, that are advocating for the release of the information.
Details from police interviews with people who worked for the mayor were censored when a 474-page court document was released on Oct. 31. The document was prepared by Toronto police to obtain search warrants in a drug case involving Etobicoke dry cleaner Jamshid Bahrami and the mayor’s friend Alessandro Lisi.
The court record shows that the police investigation was sparked by media reports of a Ford video in mid-May. The video has not surfaced publicly, but Toronto police recently revealed they have a copy. Justice Nordheimer’s ruling, which could come as early as Tuesday, will not touch on information police obtained through wiretaps. Disclosure of wiretap details will be addressed at a later date.
Last week, Mr. Ford admitted he had smoked crack cocaine after months of denying he used the drug. The mayor has not been criminally charged in this case.
A potential decision on the search-warrant document is one of several Ford-related court matters occurring on Tuesday.
Mayor Ford’s friend
Mr. Lisi, 35, has a morning court date downtown at Old City Hall to address drug charges. Mr. Lisi served as the mayor’s occasional driver and had multiple meetings with Mr. Ford in parks and at the mayor’s old high school, according to police surveillance reports outlined in the document.
Mr. Lisi is charged with dealing and possessing marijuana, possessing proceeds of crime and conspiring to commit an indictable offence. Mr. Bahrami, who has a court date on Tuesday as well, also faces drug charges. Both were released on $5,000 bail.
Mr. Lisi is also charged with extortion in connection with the Ford video. According to the search-warrant document, Mr. Lisi used “threats or violence or menace” against Mohamed Siad, the man believed to have tried to sell the video, and Liban Siyad between May 16 and May 18.
A copy of the video is expected to be in an Ontario Superior courtroom on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen whether anyone will be allowed to view it. Lawyers for Mohammad Khattak want to see the video so their client can prove he is not in it.
The Crown said last week that Mr. Khattak, 19, is not in the video. However, Mr. Khattak has been associated with it because he was one of three young men photographed with the mayor outside an Etobicoke bungalow that police have identified as a crack house. If Justice Nordheimer rules in favour of Mr. Khattak’s application, it would be extremely unlikely that the public would get to see the video.
Mr. Khattak was one of dozens of people arrested in Project Traveller, a year-long operation that culminated with police raids in Toronto, Windsor, Ont., and Edmonton in mid-June. Those accused in Project Traveller – including Mr. Siad and video broker Mohamed Farah – are expected to appear in person or by video on Tuesday at a north Toronto courthouse. Several defence lawyers have complained about the slow pace of disclosure of police information. The Crown is expected to turn over more material on Tuesday.