Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is denying allegations that he appears in a video using crack cocaine.
"It's just ridiculous," he said as he left his home in Etobicoke on Friday morning and got into his black SUV.
"It's another Toronto Star...", he said before shutting his car door and driving away.
Mr. Ford came under fire on Thursday night, after the editor of the online news site Gawker posted a story about viewing the video, which was offered up for sale.
Toronto Police Service spokesman Mark Pugash said he was aware of the allegations and "we are monitoring the situation closely." Calls and messages to the mayor’s spokesman and his brother were not returned.
Mr. Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, but he told Radio-Canada his client denies the allegations.
"I don't know whether or not such a video exists, but I think it would be fair for the public to see such a video and make their own conclusions," Mr. Morris said.
"I can tell you he denies the allegations."
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said videos can be altered, drug dealers can't be trusted, and the allegations are unsubstantiated.
"I have not seen any indication of him using any substances like this, or anything else for that matter," he told reporters at City Hall.
He said the story is not helpful to the city's reputation, whether the mayor is to blame or not.
He said he retains full confidence in the Mayor, but he said that confidence would be affected if the allegations were true.
In a post at 8:28 p.m. Thursday, Gawker media's John Cook details a trip to Toronto for a meeting with an anonymous tipster who claimed to have a video, recorded within the past six months, of Mr. Ford inhaling from a glass pipe. Mr. Cook said the tipster got in touch with Gawker by sending an e-mail to its tips line.
According to his post, Mr. Cook met with two men, the tipster and the owner of the video, and watched the video on a phone with a touchscreen.
“The only person in the frame is Rob Ford. It’s very well lit and very clear. It’s Rob Ford sitting in a room that appears to be a house or an apartment, it’s a residence, and there’s a voice off-camera,” Mr. Cook said.
“Ford has a glass pipe in one hand; it’s the kind that has a globe with two glass cylinders sticking out, one for inhaling, the other one that holds the drugs, and he’s got a lighter in the other hand. Throughout the course of the video, which lasted from my recollection roughly 35 seconds, he’s laughing at what this voice off camera is saying. And then he leans in and lights the pipe and inhales.”
Mr. Cook has never seen Mr. Ford in person but said he was “100-per-cent sure” that it was the Mayor in the video, based on his own “visual assessment” and what he heard from the tipster and the person who owned the video. In his post, Mr. Cook wrote that he “spent a lot of time looking at photographs of Rob Ford” before his trip to see the video.
Mr. Cook said the tipster had also approached a Canadian news outlet attempting to sell the video, though he would not divulge which one. According to Mr. Cook, the Canadian news outlet offered the owner of the video $40,000, which he turned down.
The Toronto Star began reporting on its website Thursday evening that “The Toronto Star has seen the video in question.” Contacted by The Globe, Toronto Star Editor Michael Cooke said the Star had not paid to obtain the video.
The tipster told Mr. Cook how he got the video, however Mr. Cook would not divulge the details.
Mr. Cook previously achieved notoriety for posting a 446-page list of “every licenced gun owner in New York City” from the New York Police Department. He was also credited with landing an exposé of the Fox News Channel by having an employee who was known as “The Fox Mole” contribute anonymously to Gawker.
Councillor Adam Vaughan said council has been working around the Mayor and his distractions since the day he was elected. He said the city needs a full-time mayor to move forward.
Councillor John Parker said it would be wise for the Mayor to address the story head-on.
"We all hope that the inferences that are floating around are untrue and the only one who can set us straight on that is the Mayor," he said.
With reports from Justin Fauteux and Simon Houpt
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