Mayor Rob Ford stays silent while brother defends him
Rob Ford’s councillor brother tells reporters that mayor says 'stories are untrue'
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford continues to stonewall the media over allegations that he was recorded on video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine, but his brother Coun. Doug Ford told reporters Wednesday that the story is untrue.
Ford has been under increasing pressure to respond to the allegations first published by the Toronto Star and the U.S. gossip website Gawker last week, resulting from their viewing of a video that has been shopped to some media outlets.
So far, the video has yet to surface, and Ford has said the allegations are both untrue and "ridiculous," though the mayor has not given a more substantive statement on the issue.
CBC News has not seen the video and has not been able to validate any of the claims being made.
On Wednesday afternoon, the mayor’s brother Doug read a prepared statement to members of the media, saying that there is no need for the mayor to comment further.
"He has already addressed these allegations three times on Friday. I don't know how much more he can say," he said.
Ford said that his brother has told him "these stories are untrue, that these accusations are ridiculous, and I believe him."
The councillor alluded to the intensive media scrutiny that his brother has faced since taking office more than two years ago, saying that the mayor doesn’t have time to respond to everything he is accused of.
"If the mayor stopped and held a press conference every time the media made up a story about him, we would never have accomplished what we have," Coun. Ford said.
Colleagues on council, including some of his known allies, have called on Mayor Ford to address the issue in more detail, but he has not responded to those appeals.
Toronto's Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday suggested Wednesday that legal advice may be behind Ford's decision to stay silent.
Holyday told reporters on Wednesday that he’s not sure why the mayor is avoiding the issue, though he knows Ford has been advised to limit his comments on the allegations.
"The only thing I've been able to get from him and some people on his staff is, I guess, that the lawyers that they are dealing with suggest the less they say at this point, the better," Holyday said. "For what reason that is, I don't know."
More calls to speak up
Holyday said he has told the mayor that he should speak to the media about the allegations.
Coun. Michael Thompson made a similar comment on Wednesday, saying there are still questions that need to be answered.
"I think that there's a need to address those particular allegations," Thompson said.
"I know if it was me personally, I'd want to respond."
The video in question has still not been made public, though Gawker is trying to raise funds through online donations in an attempt to purchase it so it can be published.
The story about the video has been picked up by media in the U.S. and elsewhere. Several prominent U.S. late-night talk show hosts have also referenced the allegations in recent days.
And in Thursday's edition the Toronto Sun became the last of the four major dailies in the city to demand that Ford answer the charges.
"Ford needs to directly address these allegations, or get help and step aside," the newspaper said in an editorial.
Toronto Police Chief William Blair was asked about the scandal on Wednesday, but he had little to say.
"The only thing I am prepared to say with respect to that matter is that the Toronto Police Service is closely monitoring the situation," Blair said.
A small pack of reporters and camera operators followed Ford into a gas station on Wednesday morning and attempted to get a comment from him on the allegations. But the mayor did not take the bait.
"Are you going to escort me all the way to city hall, too?" Ford asked, saying that it appeared he had access to "free security" on Wednesday.
Ford also asked a CTV reporter if he would be bringing a sleeping bag and pillow with him.
The mayor posed for a photo with a gas station customer who told Ford, "We love you in this city."
Ford won't coach Don Bosco team next season
Also Wednesday, news broke that Ford would no longer be coaching the Don Bosco Eagles, the high school football team he has been associated with for years.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board said it had informed Ford that it would be going in "a different direction," with a new volunteer head football coach of its senior boys football team.
"Mr. Ford's passion for football, his commitment to the Don Bosco players and their success speaks for itself," the board said in a statement issued Wednesday.
The board's director of education, Bruce Rodrigues, said the decision was "based on what is best for our students, our school and the Don Bosco community."
In an email to CBC News, a board spokesperson said that the decision was "in no way related" to the allegations surrounding the video controversy, but to comments the mayor made on a Toronto TV station earlier this year.
The Don Bosco Eagles played in the Metro Bowl this past fall, losing 28-14 to a team from Newmarket, Ont. When the game ended, Ford reaffirmed his commitment to coaching the high school players.
"I'm not going to stop coaching these kids," Ford said.
Ford has courted controversy throughout his political career, both in his actions at city hall and in his private life. The mayor will turn 44 next Tuesday.
With files from the CBC's Jeff Semple