Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologized to the City of Toronto Sunday afternoon during his radio show, saying he’s made “mistakes” – but stopped short of describing in detail what those mistakes were, addressing questions about a video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine, or his ties to an alleged drug dealer.
On The City with Mayor Rob Ford Sunday afternoon on Newstalk 1010, the mayor told listeners “I have made mistakes and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes.”
Mr. Ford described two drunken incidents he regrets – appearing “hammered” at The Taste of the Danforth street festival in the summer, and St. Patrick’s Day last year, where, according to security guards, he showed up at City Hall in the middle of the night, intoxicated, and swearing at staff.
What he did not address were any of the persistent questions regarding drug use, his ties to alleged drug dealers, or what he was doing in the now infamous video.
Here are six questions we’re still waiting on Mayor Ford to answer:
1. What was in the pipe that Mr. Ford was allegedly smoking in the video, which police have now obtained?
Police Chief Bill Blair announced Thursday that investigators have obtained a copy of a “digital video recording” that is “consistent” with earlier media reports of a video that allegedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
In May of this year, reporters from Gawker and The Toronto Star described the video as showing an impaired mayor, making homophobic comments and racist slurs. Mr. Ford said at the time “I cannot comment on a video that I have not seen, or does not exist.”
On his radio show Saturday, Mr. Ford finally acknowledged that the video exists, and urged Chief Blair to release it “for every single person in the city to see.” He did not discuss the circumstances in which the video was taken, or whether he was smoking crack cocaine.
The mayor maintains that he does not use crack cocaine.
2. What is Mr. Ford’s relationship with Alessandro Lisi, and why did he meet with Mr. Lisi so frequently, and under such mysterious circumstances?
According to police documents, investigators believe that Mr. Lisi, 35, is a drug dealer. A 474-page police document released Thursday shows that, after months of tracking Mr. Lisi’s movements and meetings, officers determined that his “background and behaviours are highly consistent with a typical drug dealer.”
During those same months, officers observed the mayor meeting with Mr. Lisi. The meetings ranged from a few minutes to hours at a time, and often in unusual locales, like empty high-school parking lots, “secluded” areas of local parks, and gas stations.
Police documents show that several former members of the mayor’s staff had suspicions about Mr. Lisi. One of the mayor’s former staffers, Chris Fickel, told police he had heard that Mr. Lisi was providing the mayor with marijuana and “possibly cocaine.”
In the past, the mayor has called Mr. Lisi “ a friend,” and “on the straight and narrow.” Mr. Lisi has also served as an occasional driver for the mayor, chauffeuring him to official events and running interference with reporters.
3. What were in the packages that police observed Mr. Lisi passing to the mayor?
On many of the occasions investigators observed meetings between the Mayor and Mr. Lisi, they say packages – plastic white bags, or manila envelopes – were exchanged between the two men.
One such incident occured on June 26, 2013, in which the two met at the parking lot of a soccer field. After speaking for a few minutes, Mr. Lisi retrieved a white plastic bag from his car. He then went to his truck, and “retrieved some cans of Minute Maid and put them in the same white plastic bag,” then placed the bag in Mr. Ford’s car. “Lisi then walked off south and met up again with Mayor Ford who was now walking north with a toddler.”
On another occasion in July, the two men met at a gas station near the Mayor’s house. As the mayor went inside the gas station kiosk, Mr. Lisi took a manila envelope from his own car, walked to Mr. Ford’s car and placed it inside the Mayor’s car. The two men left separately.
On at least two other occasions, police searched the area where such meetings had taken place, finding empty vodka bottles they believed the two men had left behind.
4. Did Mr. Ford ask Mr. Lisi, or anyone else, to make attempts to retrieve the alleged drug video?
Police allege that Mr. Lisi made “threats” against two men, one of whom is believed to have been trying to sell the video. Mr. Lisi was charged Friday with one count of extortion.
Police call logs of Mr. Lisi’s phone show that, immediately following the Gawker report in May, there was a flurry of phone calls and text messages exchanged between Mr. Lisi, the mayor, members of the mayor’s staff, and other individuals linked to the video.
An hour after the Gawker report, Mr. Lisi called Fabio Basso, whose home was the backdrop of the photograph that was circulated alongside the video. The next day, Mr. Lisi called Mohamed Siad, who is believed to have tried to sell the video. Mr. Lisi also exchanged dozens of calls with David Price, the mayor’s director of operations and a long-time Ford family friend.
5. Did Mr. Ford attempt to use his office as Mayor of Toronto to get information from police?
On Aug. 22, 2013, according to police documents, officers received a call from Sheila Paxton, one of Mr. Ford’s staff members, wanting to know why a vehicle had been following the mayor for a week and a half.
Police then spoke with the mayor’s chief of staff, Earl Provost, who said “Mayor Ford wants to know what is going on.” The following day, Mr. Provost called police again, giving police the licence plate of the car following the Mayor, and requesting its vehicle registration information.
When officers told Mr. Provost that the information was confidential, Mr. Provost said that the mayor was concerned about his safety, and “getting angry at Provost because he can’t give him what he wants.” Police offered to speak directly with Mr. Ford, but the mayor never followed up on these requests.
Officer’s notes after the fact read as follows: “I believe that the above attempts by Provost to obtain registration details for Mayor Ford clearly indicate that Mayor Ford is utilizing his position and the powers of the Office of the Mayor, to obtain information not available to regular citizens.”
6. Why has the Mayor so far declined to speak with police?
Police have offered to speak with Mr. Ford since at least late August, but he has so far declined their invitations.
Mr. Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris said Friday that there is no upside to the mayor meeting with police.
“If you’re being charged with something, I would maintain the right to remain silent and if you’re not being charged with something, I’d still remain silent because, obviously, they’re not out to give you coffee and cookies when they speak with you,” Mr. Morris said. “So it doesn’t help your cause.”