It has been 10 months since the first media reports about a video that showed Mayor Rob Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine and almost five months since police confirmed the existence of the video. But though he has admitted smoking crack, Mr. Ford has yet to give any convincing account of the circumstances.
The release of new material from an ongoing police investigation cast further doubt on the mayor’s fuzzy, evasive version of what happened. Mr. Ford has led the public to believe that he is unclear himself. In November he said he smoked the crack “probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago. ... I don’t even remember.”
Yet the new police document says that the famous video shows the mayor “consuming what appears to be a narcotic” on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 – Family Day weekend in Ontario. What is more, the video is believed to have been shot at 15 Windsor Rd., a suburban home well known to Mr. Ford through his association with its occupants, the Basso family. Police call it a crack house. In other words, the mayor is said to have smoked crack in a crack house with his old pals. How likely is it that Mr. Ford forgot such an event, even in a drunken stupor?
The account of the video in the police document says that when Mr. Ford caught sight of what looked like a cellphone, he dropped the glass cylinder and lighter he was holding and asked if the cellphone camera was on. That would seem to suggest that he at least suspected a video was being made. We also learn from the documents that one of the men who tried to sell the crack video to the media is shown on another video bragging about how to “catch a mayor smoking crack.” That doesn’t prove it was crack in the pipe the mayor is shown smoking, but it is another bit of evidence.
Mr. Ford at first said that the video didn’t even exist, then, when police revealed that it did, said that he wished police would release it so he, and the public, could have a look. As recently as this month, he told late-night comic Jimmy Kimmel that “I want the world to see it.” But the police document reveals that police offered to show Mr. Ford the video last fall, subject to conditions. They also sought to interview him. Mr. Ford declined the offer and refused to be interviewed.
The police document also focuses on Mr. Ford’s questionable associations. We have known since the release of the first police documents last year that police followed Mr. Ford and his friend Alexander Lisi and found that the two often met under mysterious circumstances involving suspicious packages.
The new document says that “throughout this investigation, it has been established that Alessandro Lisi and Mayor Ford call and meet each other on a regular basis. Some of these communications and meetings have been indicative to that of drug trafficking.” Mr. Ford, readers may recall, described his friend Mr. Lisi as a “on the straight and narrow.”
It is important to say that none of material in the documents has been tested in court and that Mr. Ford himself faces no charges. But the document puts more meat on the bones of this disturbing story and makes it all the more necessary for the mayor to give an account of his actions.
He refused on Wednesday to do anything of the sort. Instead, he bulled his way across the square outside city hall while pursuing reporters shouted questions at his back. This is a man, remember, who claims to be the best mayor Toronto has ever had and who is running for re-election in October. If he expects to have even a prayer of winning – and heaven help Toronto if he does – the least that he can do is give a more satisfying explanation of his actions and his associations.
Does he really have no recollection of the crack incident? Does he insist he knew nothing about Mr. Lisi’s record of run-ins with the law? Does he really say 15 Windsor was just an ordinary home? A hundred other questions are outstanding.
The voters of Toronto deserve answers.