TORONTO, May 18 (UPI) -- A Toronto City Council member said Mayor Rob Ford must clear up questions on alleged crack cocaine use or "it will be a massive distraction" from other issues.
Ford said Friday a report in the Toronto Star that he appeared to smoke crack cocaine in a cellphone video is "ridiculous" and "absolutely not true," but he declined three opportunities Friday to speak specifically about the allegation, the newspaper said. In addition, Ford and his brother, City Council member Doug Ford, have canceled this weekend's edition of a weekly radio show they do on CFRB-AM, Toronto.
Ford spoke briefly as he left his home Friday morning, making his first public comment on the video, in which the newspaper says he appears to be smoking from a crack pipe and makes disparaging comments about political opponents.
"These allegations are ridiculous," he later told reporters outside his office. "It's another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me and that's all I have to say."
Mark Towhy, Ford's chief of staff, hung up on a reporter seeking comment on the video and an attorney for Ford told the Star late Thursday the video images are inconclusive and the newspaper's report contains "false and defamatory" details.
Toronto police confirmed they are "monitoring the situation closely," the Star reported.
"You hope it's not true but, either way, I just hope the mayor says something as soon as possible," City Council member Josh Colle said. "Because it's salacious, it will be a massive distraction and we're dealing with important things ... ."
The Star said it learned of the video because a group of Somali men had been offering to sell it to the media. The report said the Star did not pay for the video but the seller permitted two reporters to view it.
The reporters said the video appears to show Ford inhaling from the crack pipe and appearing incoherent. At one point, he calls Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a disparaging name related to homosexuality and at another point, while discussing his role as coach of the Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School football team, he appears to say the players are "just [expletive] minorities."
The Star noted it was not possible to verify the authenticity of the video, which it said was shot during the winter at a house in Toronto by someone who said he supplies Ford with crack cocaine.