Toronto mayor's brother delivers defense

AP News
Posted: May 22, 2013 3:38 PM
Toronto mayor's brother delivers defense

TORONTO (AP) — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's brother said Wednesday that Ford has told him that reports of a purported video that appears to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine are untrue and that the media is trying to destroy his brother.

The story has caused an uproar in Canada, and the mayor and Toronto have become the butt of jokes on late night TV in the U.S. Ford has to yet to make substantive comments or take questions.

City Councilor Doug Ford took to a microphone at City Hall to deliver a long, rambling attack on the media in defense of brother.

"Rob is telling me these stories are untrue, that these allegations are ridiculous and I believe him," Ford said.

A politician has never been targeted in Canada as much as Rob Ford, who was right to ignore questions from the media, Doug Ford said.

"If the mayor stopped and held a press conference every time the media made up a story about him, we would never have accomplished what we have," said Ford, who also refused to answer questions from reporters.

Another close ally of the mayor said Ford has followed legal advice in remaining mostly silent. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he's been told by Ford and his aides that lawyers have advised the mayor that saying less is better. Holyday said he doesn't know why that advice has been given.

Holyday and others were urging Ford to address the video as the mayor of Canada's largest city continued to duck questions. He avoided a throng of reporters on Tuesday in his first public appearances following a long holiday weekend in Canada.

The mayor has repeatedly ignored reporters, but got into an exchange with a local television reporter at a Tim Hortons doughnut shop inside a convenience store on Wednesday morning.

"Are you going to escort me all the way to city hall too," Rob Ford mockingly asked a reporter for CTV television. "Did you bring your sleeping bag? Did you bring your pillow?

"Make sure you pick up your pillow and your sleeping bag outside tonight, partner. Do you want me to make your bed for you tonight? Make sure you camp out tonight."

The alleged crack smoking video has not been released publicly and there is no way to verify whether it is authentic. Reports on the gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who claimed they had sold the drug to Ford. The Associated Press hasn't seen the video.

The Star reported that two journalists 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 an anti-gay slur against the leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and a racist remark about high school football students he coaches.

The Toronto Catholic District School board said in a statement Wednesday that Ford has been fired as coach of the Don Bosco Eagles Football program after the board decided to "pursue a different direction."

"Mr. Ford has helped our students rise to the challenge and realize their potential as both football players and young men," Bruce Rodrigues, the Director of Education, said. "This decision was based on what is best for our students, our school and the Don Bosco community."

In brief comments at different times on Friday, Ford called the crack video allegations "ridiculous" and "another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me. And that's all I've got to say for now."

Holyday said it's unfortunate that the city is finding itself the butt of jokes on late night U.S. talk shows. Both "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" poked fun at the mayor and the city late Tuesday.

"The mayor has to come out and speak to the media. I don't know when that is going to take place, but I believe it has to happen," said Holyday, the deputy mayor. "He has to clearly state his position on the whole thing. Until he does that it won't go away."

Michael Thompson, a city councilor, urged Ford to talk about the video.

"There's a need to address those particular allegations," Thompson said. "I know if it was me personally I would want to respond, but I'm not sure what the rational or reasons are. There are just a lot of questions that needs to be addressed. The city deserves answers."

Ford has been embroiled in almost weekly controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but these are the most serious allegations he's faced yet. The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that he was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he appeared intoxicated.

During his campaign for mayor, Ford vehemently denied a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida, but later acknowledged it was true. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.

While in office, he has been accused of flouting conflict of interest rules and making obscene gestures at locals from his car.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.