On a day that was already not going well for Ontario’s gambling plans, Toronto mayor Rob Ford declared the deal to bring a resort-casino to the city’s downtown was “dead” unless the city received an annual hosting fee of $100m, nearly twice the $53m the government is reportedly willing to pay. Ford held a press conference Thursday afternoon at which he expressed frustration but resignation. “I’m not married to a casino. I didn’t campaign on a casino … We’re not going to carry on with the casino debate. I’m sick and tired of playing games.” But not too sick and tired to smoke crack?
On Thursday, Gawker.com writer John Cook posted an article claiming to have viewed a cellphone video of what appeared to be a very out of it Ford smoking crack cocaine, allegedly sometime within the last six months. Cook has been known to make sport of Ford’s boorish antics, so a Toronto man claiming to be Ford’s crack dealer contacted Cook, offering to sell the video for “six figures.” Cook was given a preview of the video and came away suitably convinced it was Ford’s lips on the glass pipe.
For what it’s worth, in 2010, a recording surfaced of Ford telling an AIDS sufferer who couldn’t obtain a family doctor that he’d “ask people on the street” about helping the man get some Oxycontin. But later in the same conversation, Ford suggested he probably wouldn’t have much luck because “I don’t know any drug dealers at all.”
Following publication of his article, Cook received an email (via a Hotmail account) from a man claiming to be an attorney hired by Ford. The email said Ford “denies such took place” and warned Cook that posting a photo of Ford smoking crack would be “false and defamatory and you will be held legally accountable … Please govern yourself accordingly.”
Once Gawker had let the cat out of the bag, Toronto Star reporters Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan revealed that they’d also managed to track down Ford’s self-described dealer and had viewed the two-minute video three times, each reporter taking detailed notes in the process. The Star scribes claimed to have been contacted by the dealer because they wrote a story about Ford being turfed from a gala event for Toronto military personnel in February. (One of the attendees who allegedly witnessed that incident described Ford as having been “either drunk, high or had a medical condition.”)
The intrepid pair emphasized that they have no way to verify the video’s authenticity, but their blow-by-blow – pardon the pun – is worth reading in full. Ford is described as “incoherent” while holding a lighter under a glass pipe and inhaling deeply. The video concludes shortly after a ringtone plays, jolting Ford out of his reverie long enough to squint over at the guy filming him and say: “That phone better not be on.” Will that phrase turn out to be Ford’s political epitaph? Is his political career as dead as the city’s casino deal, or does Ford have a Marion Barry-style comeback in him?