Some simmering rumors have risen to the surface after reports that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was allegedly recorded on an iPhone smoking crack cocaine with drug dealers. But this is just the latest dubious achievement for the man who might be North America's most ridiculous mayor.
Last night, Gawker's John Cook announced that a tipster had tried to sell him a video that he says shows Ford smoking from a crack pipe. Cook says he saw the video, but couldn't buy it0 because the person who recorded it was holding out for a six-figure, life-changing. After CNN, which Gawker had approached about turning the video acquisition into a co-venture, inquired with Ford's office about the video, Cook decided to write about it before it could be hushed up. Not wanting to let Gawker hog the scoop, The Toronto Star reported that they had also been approached about buying the video (their description of both the video and their meetings with the source basically sync up with Cook's) and also chose not to pay for it.
So while no one has seen the video outside of three reporters, the two independent stories make it sound like it definitely exists and all three have independently concluded that it is Ford smoking crack. According to their descriptions, Ford appears addled in the short clip and at one point calls opposition leader Justin Trudeau a "fag." The video was apparently shot by the men who sold Ford the drugs, and who are also apparently the connection of choice for other "A-list" Torontonians.
Ford has still not commented on the allegations, although A lawyer for Ford has called the suggestion that Ford is smoking crack "false and defamatory" and Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday suggested the video could have been faked, citing as proof that Canadian college students managed to convince a lot of people that their video of an eagle had snatching a child from a park was real.
Update: As he was leaving his house today, Ford called the allegations "ridiculous," but did not elaborate.
While this would probably take the cake for the worst scandal of most politicians' careers, the race for that title in Ford's public resume is a lot tighter than you might think. A city council member before being elected mayor in 2010, Ford has a very long history of incidents including public drunkenness, offensive statements about minorities, and general foolishness. So many in fact, that someone had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. (There are currently 61 entries.)
Some of the lowlights of Ford's illustrious nonsense:
- He received a DUI in 1999, but denied it during his mayoral campaign a decade later until the proof was presented.
- In 2006, he was ejected from a Maple Leafs game for being drunk and belligerent. He allegedly asked another fan who complained, "Are you some kind of right wing Commie bastard?" (He tried to deny being at the game.)
- In 2008, he said, "Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That's why they're successful in life. ... I'm telling you, the Oriental people, they're slowly taking over."
- That same month, he was arrested and charged with domestic assault after his wife called police, but the case was later dropped.
- In 2010, he offered to help a sick man "score" OxyContin. During the taped phone conversation, he said, "Fuck, you know, I don’t know any drug dealers at all."
- In 2011, he skipped a Canada Day pride parade in Toronto, on the grounds that his family always goes away for a family vacation on that holiday. Photos later surfaced showing him marching in another Canada Day parade just one year earlier.
- In 2011, Ford called 911 after being ambushed by a crew from the comedy show This Hour Has 22 Minutes. During the call, he reportedly berated the operator saying, "You bitches! Don't you fucking know? I'm Rob fucking Ford, the mayor of this city!"
- On St. Patrick's Day 2012, Ford was escorted out of a restaurant after "storming the dance floor" and acting "like an idiot." Staffers there described him as "incoherent and "hammered"
- Last summer, pictures surfaced of a "disheleved" Ford posing for pictures with a bachelorette party.
- In his spare time, Ford coaches football at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School, whose players he has often demeaned in interviews. Many of the players come from underpriviliged backgrounds, and Ford claimed many of them would not go to school at all and would be dead or in jail, if it wasn't for football.
- Ford was nearly removed from office last year after making a questionable donation to the team, and for soliciting donations for the school from city lobbyists. There are also multiple instances of Ford leaving government events and even his own libel trial to coach the team. After one game,two city buses were diverted to pick up his team (that had been involved in a post-game brawl) stranding actual bus passengers in the rain
- In March of this year, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson claims Ford "grabbed my ass" while they were posing for a picture, and after he made a lewd suggestion to her. Thomson says she told a friend. "There's something wrong with him. Rob doesn't do that."
- Just three months ago, Ford was kicked out of a gala charity ball because organizers believed he was impaired.
And that doesn't even get into his political scandals, which have seen him butt heads with other city officials and take controversial stances on issues like immigration. Ford's reinstatement after last fall's donation scandal has kept his career alive for now, but controversy has dogged his entire term in office. Perhaps being a lovable drunk is just a way to distract people from how terrible you are at your job.
All jokes aside, Ford's actions, particularly in the last year, sound like the behavior of someone with a serious drinking problem. The stories have gone far beyond gossipy rumors to worrisome news in the local papers, and there serious questions about whether he should be in office anymore. Getting caught paling around with drug dealers may finally be what it takes to get him out of the mayor's chair—and get him some much needed help.