TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied Friday that he smokes crack cocaine and said he is not an addict after a video purported to show him using the drug. The mayor of Canada’s largest city did not say whether he has ever used crack.
Ford did not take questions from reporters at a news conference at City Hall held after a week of silence and after close allies released a letter urging him to address the purported video. The video apparently shows Ford smoking crack.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” he said before going on to criticize the media.
Ford had been ducking the media and his only comments before Friday on the scandal came a week ago, a day after the story broke, when he called the crack smoking allegations “ridiculous” and said the Toronto Star newspaper was out to get him.
Ford said he had kept quiet on the advice of his lawyer.
The alleged video has not been released publicly and its authenticity has not been verified. Reports on gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who said they had sold the drug to Ford. The Associated Press hasn’t seen the video.
The Star reported that two journalists had watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it. Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.
The Star also reported that Ford allegedly made a racist remark about the high school football students he coached.
“It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I’ve been judged by the media without any evidence,” Ford said.
City Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said he was profoundly disappointed in the mayor’s statement and called on Ford to resign. De Baeremaeker said he believes the reports about Ford’s alleged drug use and believes Ford’s tenure is over.
“I don’t believe the mayor,” he said. “He should resign and then go seek help.”
De Baeremaeker said he’s observed erratic behavior from the mayor.
“The mayor is just imploding,” he said. “The mayor had an opportunity to acknowledge that perhaps he does have a problem, and to take a leave of absence, perhaps to take care of himself and his family, instead he went on the attack.”
Other councilors said the mayor wasn’t comprehensive enough and said the distraction clearly wasn’t over.
Ford fired his chief of staff on Thursday. A statement from the mayor’s office gave no reason for Mark Towhey’s dismissal. Towhey, who was escorted from City Hall by security, would only say that he did not resign.