12 Nov 2013

On the trail of Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford

Despite admitting to smoking crack cocaine, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford insists he will not stand down. Inigo Gilmore visits his home in Toronto to ask him if he plans to go into rehab.

Rob Ford’s home sit along a quiet side street in a Toronto suburb, and as I approached his front door, recent images of the irate mayor angrily yelling at reporters and photographers whirred through my mind.

As I knocked on the door, Mr Ford opened it a touch and then closed it firmly in an instant. I barely had time to introduce myself.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Mr Ford who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine after repeated denials and featured in a wild video where he rants and raves, threatening to kill someone.

A man who has singlehandedly succeeded in making Toronto the butt of international jokes.

All of this seems out of kilter with the image of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America. It’s a sedate sort of place but there is nothing sedate about its mayor Rob Ford.

Even though many had called for him to stay away, he turned out at a Remembrance Day event on Monday. It was a very different image of a man who has singlehandedly succeeded in making Toronto the butt of international jokes.

‘White trash – with cash’?

In a video released last week, a deranged and heavily intoxicated Ford rants and raves. Apparently filmed at the home of a former supporter, he threatens to kill an unnamed person. It was released at the same time as he finally admitted to smoking crack cocaine.

Ford lives in the suburbs of Toronto – and has cast himself as a down to earth everyman up against Toronto’s elite. To his detractors he is white trash – with cash. Venturing into his territory, I wanted to ask the mayor about his fitness for office.

Watch the video as Toronto mayor Rob Ford admits: 'I've made mistakes'

It looked like he wasn’t going to come out – but then suddenly there he was at his front door. I attempted to ask him questions, including whether – as had been reported – he might be going into rehab. He refused to comment and told me that I should show him some “respect”.

Perhaps respect for his own office was not top of Mr Ford’s mind earlier this year when he went to Toronto’s notorious gangs and drugs heartland earlier this year. Known as Little Mogadishu, it is home to many Somali immigrants. He ended up in a house identified by police as a crack house.

Significant support and bobblehead dolls

But Mr Ford is steadfastly weathering the storm – and still has significant support in a city now divided over his fate. I was invited by one of his staunchest supporters, radio host Jerry Agar, to go on air during the same slot as Rob Ford’s now cancelled weekly show.

Even though Ford insists he is going nowhere, the allegations keep on coming. This week, in court lawyers were seeking access to police documents, shedding light on Ford’s relationship with an alleged drug dealer. And Channel 4 News has been told other videos are out there which apparently show Ford in an even more compromising position.

But he is so confident he is handing out his own bobblehead dolls, as we discovered from a guest leaving his office. Rob Ford is determined his will be the official face of this city for a long time to come.