Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he knows nothing about the early morning police raids that centred on an apartment complex in Rexdale linked to the alleged video that purportedly shows him smoking crack.
Mr. Ford, who usually rushes past the press outside his office and has refused for three weeks to take any question on the drug allegations, changed tack Thursday morning, stopping three times to address reporters.
Asked if he is worried that his name might come up as part of the investigation, a defiant Mr. Ford dared reporters to dig into his activities – pulling from his jacket pocket a piece of paper with the licence plate number of a van he said was used Wednesday night to photograph him.
"You want to follow me around, take pictures. I don't care. I have nothing to hide," Mr. Ford said. "I support the police 100 per cent. They did a great job."
Mr. Ford also was asked if he is concerned the alleged drug video will come out in court and for the first time since he read a statement on the matter, he responded.
"Guys, I've already commented on that," he said. "I can't comment on something that I've never seen or doesn't exist. I don't know how many more times I've got to say this. It's pretty straightforward."
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair refused to discuss any evidence involving Thursday's early-morning raids and would not comment on whether the mayor has been linked to the investigation.
"I must advise you that we are not able to disclose either the investigative methodologies that we have deployed over the course of this investigation, or the evidence that has been obtained," he said. "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 it is routine not to brief the mayor's office before police conduct a major operation. "Our standard operating procedure in the conduct of such investigations is to share information on a need-to-know basis," he said.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, told reporters the raids have nothing to do with Mr. Ford. "This raid is just the police doing their business and good luck to them," he said.
But for the first time, the deputy mayor confirmed that a tip was received by the mayor's office that dealt specifically with criminal activity at a specific address on Dixon Road. He could not confirm if it was one of buildings involved in the police raids.
"The only thing that connected the mayor to that building at all was that somebody phoned the mayor's office and said one of their neighbours was dealing drugs, would you stop it, and the mayor said, fine, I'll turn this over to the police and that's what he did," Mr. Holyday said.
Asked how he knew about the call, Mr. Holyday said: "Because that's the way the mayor's office treats these things. They get a lot of calls about different things."
Mr. Holyday said the call to the mayor's office was about a specific address, but could not provide more detail. "An address on Dixon Road," he said.
Mr. Ford did not tell him about the call, Mr. Holyday said. "The mayor's staff would have handled this, not the mayor," he said. "People trying to tie the mayor to an address in a building because he got a phone call is absurd." Earlier in the day, Mr. Ford told reporters police had not yet briefed him on the raids. He said he only learned of them while listening to the radio on his drive to work.
City councillors returned Thursday for a third day of debate and as details of the raids began to emerge, emotions also increased on the council floor.
During a morning debate over an investigation of eviction practices at Toronto Community Housing, Mr. Ford held the floor for the better part of an hour, listing past abuses at the agency and at one point delivering a verbal pounding to Councillor Gord Perks after he suggested a crackdown on tenants in arrears led to the evictions of seniors – the topic of the report.
"That is not true," the mayor said, adding "People aren't going to live for free at Toronto Community Housing … I don't care if you're two years old, 20 years old, 200 years old, you're not going to live for free." Mr. Ford's mike was finally turned off as he began shouting at Mr. Perks about past spending abuses at the housing agency. "I know it's sensitive. I know it's sensitive," he bellowed. "You're the same person that condoned all this."
With reports from Sunny Dhillon