By Rob Gillies Associated Press
TORONTO — A close ally of Toronto mayor Rob Ford said Wednesday that Ford has followed legal advice in remaining silent about a purported video that appears to show him smoking crack cocaine.
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.
He is urging Ford to address the video. The mayor of Canada’s largest city has 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 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,” Holyday said. “He has to clearly state his position on the whole thing. Until he does that it won’t go away.
“It may not go away then, but at least people will have a choice to what to believe.”
The 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.
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.
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 residents 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.