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Police Chief Blair defends limited information on Project Traveller investigation

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair held a press conference at police headquarters on June 13, 2013, to provide limited information on a drug sting carried out earlier that morning.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Police Chief Bill Blair says he has a legal obligation to withhold information that could prove or disprove the existence of an alleged video appearing to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.

"I am not going to jeopardize an important prosecution to satisfy your curiosity," he told reporters following a Toronto Police Services Board meeting. "The fact is the law is quite explicit on how that information should be gathered and how it's to be disclosed."

He went on to mock reports quoting legal experts who said he should speak more freely about the possible role of the alleged video in a series of raids on suspected gang members last week.

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"I would question the expertise of those who are referred to as 'the experts,'" he said. "It took about a week to find them. We've been consulting broadly with people who actually work in this law and are recognized throughout the province as true experts, and I think the way in which the law has been applied in this case is exactly the way it's supposed to be applied."

Last week's raids targeted the Dixon City Bloods, a gang that allegedly traded in guns and drugs. But the location of those busts has given rise to questions about the possible role of the alleged video in the year-long gang investigation, dubbed Project Traveller. The residential complex at the heart of the raids, located along Dixon Road, is the same cluster of buildings where an informant told a member of the mayor's office that the alleged video was being kept, a source told The Globe and Mail.

A source familiar with the investigation also told The Globe that police became aware of the alleged video as part of Project Traveller before it surfaced in published reports in mid-May.

Two men who appeared in a photo that emerged along with initial reports of the alleged video were arrested and charged in the raids.

Following the busts, residents said police seized all electronic devices from their homes, including cellphones, laptops and iPads and that officers spoke openly about trying to find a video as they searched apartments.

The mayor has said he does not use crack cocaine and that the video does not exist. He said he was proud of the police work involved in Project Traveller.

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About the Author
National reporter

Patrick previously worked in the Globe's Winnipeg bureau, covering the Prairies and Nunavut, and at Toronto City Hall. He is a National Magazine Award recipient and author of the book Mountie In Mukluks. More

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