Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied that he uses crack cocaine and questions the existence of a video depicting him using drugs.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” Mayor Ford said in a press conference Friday afternoon.
“As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen, or does not exist.”
The mayor’s statement comes at the end of a dramatic week at City Hall. Mr. Ford has been under fire since reports surfaced last week of an alleged video that purportedly shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford dismissed the reports as “ridiculous,” but had, until Friday, refused to address the allegations in detail. During his speech, Mr. Ford said that he had stayed silent on the issue based on advice from his lawyer.
The Mayor’s brother Doug Ford made a brief statement immediately after, lashing out at the media outlets who first broke the news of the alleged video. “There was one news organization that accused and has an accusation of a video that does not exist, or we haven’t seen,” he said.
Reporters from both American gossip website Gawker and the Toronto Star claim to have seen the video.
Mayor Ford’s comments follow the release of a public letter Friday afternoon written by members of his executive committee, urging him to confront the allegations of drug use.
“The allegations need to be addressed openly and transparently,” the letter reads. “We are encouraging the Mayor to address this matter so that we can continue to focus on serving the people of Toronto.”
In total, six councillors, including Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, signed the letter. Councillors Peter Milczyn, Jaye Robinson, Cesar Palacio, Gary Crawford and Michael Thompson also signed the letter.
Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ford fired his chief of staff of over a year, Mark Towhey. According to two sources, the dismissal came after Mr. Towhey told his boss that the only way out of the scandal was to seek help for his addiction.
It has not been established that Mr. Ford has an addiction.
With reports from Elizabeth Church