For Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, Thursday began with a familiar sight – journalists waiting outside his home.
But the mayor said he didn’t know why: His cable wasn’t working and police hadn’t briefed him about their massive gang raids ahead of time.
“You want to follow me around, take pictures, I don’t care. I have nothing to hide,” Mr. Ford later told reporters. “I support the police 100 per cent. They did a great job.”
The raids largely targeted two clusters of apartment buildings on Dixon Road in northwest Toronto that are tied to a now-notorious alleged video that purportedly shows Mr. Ford smoking crack cocaine. One of the mayor’s staff members received a tip that the video may have been in an apartment at 320 Dixon Rd. at one point, a city hall source has told The Globe and Mail.
At a press conference to discuss the raids, Police Chief Bill Blair instead faced a barrage of repeated questions about whether the year-long investigation, dubbed Project Traveller, had uncovered any links to the mayor. He wouldn’t answer, citing the integrity of the prosecution.
“The law is very clear on this matter and the only place for the legal disclosure of the evidence that has been obtained throughout this investigation is in a court of law,” Chief Blair said.
However, the alleged video has become a story that just won’t go away. On Thursday, The Globe and Mail, citing a source close to the investigation, reported that Toronto police had in fact become aware of the alleged video before it was revealed in the media.
The video’s existence was first reported by Gawker and the Toronto Star on May 16. Mr. Ford initially dismissed the allegations as “ridiculous” and dodged questions and growing calls from councillors and civic leaders to address the scandal.
The mayor broke his silence a week later, saying: “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.” He also said he couldn’t “comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.”
Mr. Ford’s press conference came a day after he fired Mark Towhey, his chief of staff and close adviser, after he urged him to get help for his addiction, sources told The Globe. It has not been established that Mr. Ford has an addiction.
In the next few days, five of his staff quit. As well, Nick Kouvalis, the mastermind of Mr. Ford’s 2010 election victory, has indicated he will not work on the mayor’s re-election campaign unless he enters rehabilitation.
Despite speaking to the media three times on Thursday, Mr. Ford continued his practice of refusing to answer questions about the alleged video.
“I’ve answered so many questions,” he said. “I don’t know if you guys can’t get it through your thick skulls. Seriously?”