Never has a city council meeting anywhere been followed with such intrigue. But this was one of the most compelling installments yet of the “Rob Ford show”, Inigo Gilmore reports.
Toronto’s crack smoking mayor was being grilled about his wild lifestyle.
Standing on the floor of the council chamber mayor Ford looked a tad ashamed as he was forced to admit to buying illegal drugs over the last two years.
Denzil Minnan-Wong, a councillor and now outspoken critic of Mr Ford, asked the mayor “have you purchased drugs in the last two years?” After an eternal pause Mr Ford, looking flustered, finally blurted out: “Yes, I have”
But this being Rob Ford he later claimed, unabashed and with a straight face, that he “absolutely” had zero tolerance for drugs, guns and gangs. Welcome to the world if Toronto’s beleaguered mayor.
The day has not started well for the mayor who was accused of physically “threatening” a councillor.
The developments came as city council debated Minnan-Wong’s motion to ask Mr Ford to step aside and deal with his problems after he admitted to smoking crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor.”
At times the session bordered on the bizarre. Mr Ford’s brother Douglas claimed that the mayor was the “most honest politician in Canada” and said other councillors were “flogging” the mayor.
But the mayor told council that the reason he drank or did drugs was not because of stress but because of “sheer stupidity.”
He maintained he is neither an alcoholic nor addicted to drugs, although he conceded that from the outside, it may look like he has a “problem.”
“I ask for forgiveness, I’ve apologized and I want to move on,” said mayor Ford.
Defending his brother, Councillor Doug Ford rose to his feet and ripped into other councillors in the chambers who presented themselves as “lily white.”
He demanded to know if Councillor Minnan-Wong had ever smoked marijuana, which got no answer. “The answer is yes, I guess,” bellowed councillor Ford.
“The whole council will stand up, so don’t come across, don’t come across, like you’re holier than thou, because you’re not,” he continued to shout after the speaker closed off his microphone.
“Everyone should be careful about throwing rocks in a glass house. Have you ever done illicit drugs Minnan-Wong?”
Throughout all the commotion, the mayor kept saying “answer the question!”
The mayor is known to enjoy the rough and tumble of political life but it’s been a particularly rough few weeks for Mr Ford as allegations about his lifestyle come crashing in.
When I caught up with him at the weekend he was not best pleased to see me and bellowed at me from his front doorstep.
It seems that his troubles are only going to mount.
A judge on Wednesday ordered the release of redacted documents related to the drug arrest of one of Mr Ford’s friend and a police investigation into the Ford video.
According to the Toronto Sun a media lawyer who saw the newly released documents said former staffers told police shocking details about booze, drugs and even a suspected prostitute in the mayor’s City Hall office.
The information is contained in police interviews that will be released to the public after Justice Ian Nordheimer ruled that some blacked-out portions of the information to obtain a search warrant into the affairs of Mr Ford’s friend Alexander Lisi can be made available.
Among the redacted information to be released are interviews with former Ford staffers Mark Towhey, David Price and George Christopoulos, according to media lawyer Iain MacKinnon who was quoted in the newspaper.
According to the documents, MacKinnon told the Toronto Sun that two staffers expressed concern to Christopoulos about Ford’s use of alcohol, including drinking and driving.
Some of the most startling allegations concern the night of 17 March, 2012.
The newspaper said: “Former special assistant of communications Isaac Ransom told police, according to MacKinnon, that he was summoned to City Hall about 9pm on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012 and found Ford there with a few people including a woman he believed may be an escort. He said Ford had drank half of a 40oz bottle of vodka and was talking about getting hammered and getting laid that night.
His staff tried unsuccessfully to convince him not to go to Bier Markt, according to Mr Ransom.
He said he did manage to stop Mr Ford from smoking pot in his office before he left. He said he’s never seen him do cocaine.
Mr MacKinnon said that according to the documents, a waiter at the Bier Markt told investigators that he believed Mr Ford had snorted cocaine in a private room that night.
The waiter said he saw Mr Ford and a woman with their heads down, trying to hide what they were doing, and then heard “two sniffs,” according to the documents.
He was told by a Ford staffer not to tell anyone what he had seen – which he said confirmed for him that he had seen the mayor do coke.
According to the documents, there were four or five people in the private room including some women who didn’t appear to be staffers.
About an hour and a half later, the waiter heard that Mr Ford went to the dance floor and pushed people out of the way.
The waiter said he later got in trouble from management for telling people Mr Ford did cocaine in the private room of the bar.
But the Bier Markt manager told police he didn’t see Mr Ford doing drugs that night and the mayor was not kicked out of the bar as some media later reported.
A bartender told police he saw the mayor very intoxicated and witnessed him charging the dance floor. He was told by the waiter that Mr Ford had done cocaine that night and the DJ had photos of the mayor “really f***** up.”
When he got back to City Hall following his intoxicated evening at the bar, Ransom said Mr Ford pushed staffers Brooks Barnett and Earl Provost because he was agitated they were telling him to go home.”
Provost took him home in a taxi and when they got there, Mr Ford then got into his car and drove off.
According to the Toronto Sun, Mr Ford’s staff told police that some women came to the mayor’s office saying Mr Ford had told them they could have a job after they smoked joints with him outside of bars
But it’s not all grim. Local entrepreneurs are doing a brisk business, making a quick buck – on the ongoing crack scandal.
As well as t-shirts selling by the dozen, a new gourmet hotdog joint in Toronto is turning out “crack dogs”.
It’s been the No. 1 menu item for two weeks. Cheese curds from Quebec are sprinkled on top made to look like crack
Bobbleheads in the mayor’s likeness, dubbed #RobbieBobbie on social media, have also caused a mad scramble as hundreds of supporters snapped them up for 20 dollars each
The 1,000 dolls sold out, but one man later offered to sell the collectible for $1.2m.
“Will consider trading for a Caribbean island,” the online posting said. More reasonable offers were around $400. On eBay, someone was bidding $786.
Just when it seemed it could not get any more humiliating, it’s now emerged that the organizers of the Santa Claus Parade formally asked him not to participate this year. They said he’d be a “distraction.” Surely not.