Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits he was "probably" reading while driving on the city's busy Gardiner Expressway.
The admission came in reaction to a photo that was circulating on Twitter that showed the mayor reading a document while sitting in the driver's seat of his black Cadillac Escalade.
The photo was uploaded by user @RyanGHaughton, who said in a later tweet that "the picture was taken around 10am while on the Gardner [sic] and traffic was moving at about 70 km heading eastbound just by Jameson."
'It is obvious that you are busy enough to require [a driver] and no amount of money you are saving by not having one is worth the life of one of your citizens.'— Toronto police Sgt. Tim Burrows
Both that tweet and the earlier tweet with the photo of the mayor were deleted, and later the entire account.
Ford was asked about the photo by a reporter during a news conference Tuesday morning in which he was promoting an upcoming trade mission to Chicago with the goal of creating business partnerships and increasing investment in Toronto.
The following is the exchange that took place between Ford and the reporter:
Reporter: "Sir, there's a picture that went out on Twitter this morning of you reading while still driving on the Gardiner [Expressway]."
Ford: "Yeah, probably. I'm busy."
Reporter: "So you read while driving?"
Ford: "Yeah, probably, yeah. I'm try[ing] to catch up on my work and you know I keep my eyes on the road, but I'm a busy man."
Reporter: "You don't see a problem doing that on the Gardiner?"
Ford: "Well, I'm busy. I got to be — I don't know what that has to do with a trade mission, but anyways. Ridiculous questions sometimes, seriously."
Police officer pleads with mayor on Facebook
A post on the Toronto Police Service's official Facebook page weighed in on the issue Tuesday afternoon, with Sgt. Tim Burrows writing that reading a piece of paper while driving is not a violation of distracted driving legislation in the province. However, a driver could be charged if "the driving behaviour constituted a specific offence," he wrote.
The post further urged the mayor to change his behaviour.
"Finally, on behalf of all the citizens of Toronto that value road safety, Mr Mayor... please get a driver. It is obvious that you are busy enough to require one and no amount of money you are saving by not having one is worth the life of one of your citizens."
Burrows helped develop the force's social media strategy, and was formerly a member of the traffic services unit.
Ford has adamantly refused to retain a driver, despite the entreaties from a number of colleagues, including his brother, Coun. Doug Ford to do so and a number of incidents in which the mayor has been accused of committing driving faux-pas.
Ford in July admitted he drove past a streetcar's rear doors, and was then confronted by the operator of the streetcar.
In October, Ford was accused of illegally dialing numbers on his cellphone and talking on it as he steered his gold minivan westbound along Dundas Street West near Spadina Avenue.
And last July, the mayor denied accusations that he gave the middle finger to Ottilie Mason and her six-year-old daughter after the mother accosted him for talking on his cellphone while driving.