“I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” Ford said in a statement Friday afternoon. “As for a video, I can’t comment on a video I have never seen or does not exist.”
Ford, sporting a new haircut and appearing relaxed, made the statement to reporters inside a packed room at City Hall. The mayor said he stayed quiet for the past week on the advice of his lawyer.
“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.
“This past week has not been an easy one. It has taken a great toll on my family and my friends and the great people of Toronto.”
Ford delivered the statement an hour after his executive committee wrote a letter urging the mayor to address the allegations publicly.
Last week, U.S. website Gawker and the Toronto Star published stories saying journalists from both outlets had viewed a video that appeared to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
Ford’s presence in the video has not been independently verified.
Despite the mayor’s denials, City Hall watchers and Gawker, which first broke the story, immediately seized on Ford not ruling out having used the drug in the past.
The mayor responded by telling Mark Towhey he “might as well just leave,” according to the source, and officially fired him in person the next day.
The source suspects the problem is alcohol-related. The mayor had denied a report in March that suggested he has a problem with alcohol as an “outright lie.”
But in a story headlined “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Says He No Longer Smokes Crack Cocaine” posted soon after Ford spoke, Gawker editor John Cook claimed Ford’s statement was not “inconsistent with Rob Ford having been caught on tape smoking crack cocaine within the past six months.”
Cook also noted Ford never said he hadn’t ever smoked crack cocaine.
“He did not say, as one who has never smoked crack cocaine might say, ‘I have never smoked crack cocaine,’” Cook writes.
“He said he does not smoke crack cocaine, which is the sort of thing that someone who woke up this morning and decided to stop smoking crack cocaine might say, on the grounds that it’s not presently untrue.”
“There is one news organization that accused and has an accusation of a video that does not exist, or we haven’t seen, very simple,” he said, as reporters pointed out that two news organizations have made the allegations.
Doug Ford then took several questions from reporters, although he abruptly stopped taking questions when asked about Gawker. Instead he attacked the website’s attempt to crowdsource the purchase of the video.
“I think it is disgusting . . . That an organization like Gawker would go out there and deal with a bunch of extortionists, a bunch of Somali drug dealers,” he said. “I puts a real tarnish on a great community, the Somali community.”
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 – Scarborough Centre) said the mayor lied throughout his statement Friday and said Ford has to resign.
“You don’t have legitimacy to run this government anymore,” he said was his message to Ford. “His tenure is over. The mayor should resign and get some help for himself and his family.
“Take care of yourself. Take care of your family. But he is unable to govern the city anymore,” he said. “The statements he has made are so offensive on so many levels that his tenure as mayor is effectively over.”
Mayor Ford thanked Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday for his support. He also thanked Towhey for his service “and all the work that he has done.”
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