Toronto mayor: Crack cocaine allegation is 'ridiculous'

May 17, 2013 at 6:45 PM
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TORONTO, May 17 (UPI) -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Friday a Canadian newspaper report he appeared to smoke crack cocaine in a cellphone video is "ridiculous."

Ford spoke briefly as he left his home about 9:50 a.m., making his first public comment on a Toronto Star report on the video, in which the newspaper says he appears to be smoking from a crack pipe and makes disparaging comments about political opponents.

Later Friday, he told reporters at City Hall: "These allegations are ridiculous. 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.

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 three times May 3.

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 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.

The Star reported in March Ford was asked to leave an event in February because he appeared to be intoxicated. The March report included allegations by City Hall employees Ford has a substance abuse problem -- allegations Ford dismissed, calling the Star "pathological liars."

Toronto City Council member Gloria Lindsay Luby urged Ford to address the latest allegation as soon as possible, the Star reported.

"Come out with it," Lindsay Luby said. "Be honest. Say, 'Yes it happened,' or 'No it didn't.' That's the only way to deal with something like this."

"I would think the mayor would be wise to address the story head on and put it to rest," said another council member, John Parker.

"We all hope that the inferences that are floating around are untrue and the only one who can set us straight on that is the mayor," said Parker, a former political ally of Ford.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he hopes Ford will address the allegation as soon as possible, but he said he has confidence in Ford and questioned whether the video was trustworthy.

"Certainly we all know that videos can be altered and we certainly know that drug dealers can't be trusted so we don't know what we're dealing with here and until we do I don't have much to say," he said.

However, Holyday said if the allegation is substantiated "that would certainly change a lot of things."

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