Police have tracked down and interviewed one of two men who detectives believe were trying to sell a recent video of Toronto's mayor smoking what is said to be crack cocaine in his sister's basement.
Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux, the officer leading the criminal investigation into Rob Ford's activities, met with one of the alleged drug dealers in the past few days, The Globe and Mail has learned. The interview marks the first concrete sign in months that Toronto police are still actively investigating the mayor of Canada's largest city.
Earlier this year, the Ford probe – known as Project Brazen 2 – appeared to be stalled.
In March, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced he was handing control of the case over to the Ontario Provincial Police, following repeated accusations from the mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, that the chief had a political vendetta against the mayor. By month's end, the OPP informed Toronto police that they saw no reason to charge Mr. Ford and that they would not be pursuing the case unless new information came forward.
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash vowed that on the Toronto side, Project Brazen 2 was still ongoing, but until now it has not been clear in what capacity.
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Det. Sgt. Giroux refused to provide any details about the interview. Two phone numbers associated with the self-described dealers appear to have been disconnected. They could not be reached for comment. It's been just over two weeks since two Globe and Mail reporters viewed footage of Toronto's mayor smoking what is alleged to be crack cocaine. The clip was one of three shot surreptitiously in Kathy Ford's basement around 1:15 a.m. on April 26. There was no audio.
The shortest of the three videos shows Mr. Ford holding a long copper-coloured pipe that appears to have tin foil secured around the bowl, which is consistent with crack use. In another, Mr. Ford can be seen talking on his cellphone, frantically shifting his weight back and forth on the spot, while his sister and Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi – a man charged with extortion in connection to the first crack video – look on.
The same night that The Globe reported on the existence of this video, the Toronto Sun released an audio recording of Mr. Ford making homophobic, racist and sexist remarks at a bar near his home. The clips appear to have been recorded on the Monday following the incident in Kathy Ford's basement.
With both stories again making national headlines, Mr. Ford announced he was taking a temporary leave to get treatment. In a statement, the mayor said: "I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time. Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help."
Mr. Ford initially flew to Chicago, but shortly after landing, he voluntarily returned to Canada. His whereabouts were unknown until Friday afternoon when he was spotted in Ontario cottage country. Mr. Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, insisted the mayor is still in rehab. When asked if detectives had reached out to his client since the second video's existence was revealed, Mr. Morris said "not to my knowledge."
In the past, Mr. Ford has refused to co-operate with investigators.
Mr. Morris, who has also represented Kathy Ford in the past, said he has not heard whether police have contacted her. The mayor's sister admitted to being a drug addict last November shortly after Mr. Ford confessed to smoking crack cocaine while in office.