Toronto Mayor Denies Crack-Smoking Allegations

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 24 2013 3:57 PM

With Fate of Video in Question, Toronto Mayor Denies Smoking Crack

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is swarmed by reporters as he enters his offices at Toronto City Hall.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is swarmed by reporters as he enters his offices at Toronto City Hall on May 17, 2013. Ford denies allegations that he smoked crack cocaine, his lawyer told the Toronto Sun on Friday.

Photo by Brett Gundlock / Reuters

Breaking a week of silence about allegations that he was filmed smoking crack in the presence of Somali drug dealers, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford called a Friday afternoon press conference to adamantly deny the reports. "There has been a serious accusation from the Toronto Star that I use crack cocaine," he said. "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I crack cocaine addict."

Ford semi-denied the allegations last week, telling reporters as he left his home the morning after the story broke that the reports were "just ridiculous." He added: "It's another Toronto Star ..." before trailing off, referring to Canada's largest daily newspaper and an outlet that has previously written about allegations that the mayor has a substance abuse problem. He then declined to address the matter any further until this afternoon. The reason for his silence, he said, was because he was "advised not to say a word" by his attorney.

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The timing of the press conference comes one day after Gawker—which is trying to raise the $200,000 it says it needs to buy the video—announced that it has been unable to contact the owner of the video in recent days, something that increases the chances that the video in question may never become public. Ford, who never mentioned the U.S. website by name, said: "As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have not seen, or does not exist."

Last week, his attorney told Canadian radio: "I don't know whether or not such a video exists, but I think it would be fair for the public to see such a video and make their own conclusions."

Ford left without taking any questions from reporters. His spokesman, however, stuck around for a few minutes, during which he sparred with reporters while refusing to concede that anyone but the Star had made the allegations. "Let me tell you about Gawker," he said eventually after repeated questioning. "I think it's disgusting ... that an organization like Gawker would deal with a bunch of extortionists."

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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