The worlds of Toronto's biggest newsmakers collided this week when scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford found himself defending Justin Bieber after the singer's arrest.
"He's a young guy, 19 years old," Mr. Ford told a Washington radio station on Thursday. Mr. Ford – who faces persistent drug and alcohol abuse allegations, as well as a lawsuit in which his former brother-in-law alleges he was the victims of a jailhouse attack last year intended to protect Mr. Ford – urged compassion for the young pop star. "I wish I was as successful as he was," Mr. Ford said, although he added that he is not a fan of the singer's music, preferring Rush and Led Zeppelin.
For all his success, Mr. Bieber has had a very bad month. The native of Stratford, Ont., went to a Toronto police station on Wednesday night and was charged with assault in connection with a December 30 attack on a limousine driver. Police allege that Mr. Bieber hit the driver on the back of the head "several times" after the singer left a downtown Toronto nightclub.
Toronto Police Constable Wendy Drummond said no one else has been charged in relation to the alleged limo attack, and no weapon was involved. She added that the limo driver is not believed to have sought medical treatment for his injuries.
Just one week before his Toronto arrest, Mr. Bieber was charged in Miami with driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving with an expired licence.
Mr. Bieber attended a Toronto Maple Leafs game the same night of the alleged limo attack with friends, including childhood friend Ryan Butler. On Thursday, Mr. Butler posted a blog defending his friend. "It's not easy to be in that situation, growing up in front of the entire world," he wrote. "Yes, people make mistakes. We all do. We're human."