Embattled Mayor Rob Ford dropped as high school football coach
Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 11:31AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013 4:54PM EDT
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been dismissed from his long-time high school football coaching duties, but the Catholic school board says the decision has nothing to do with an alleged video reported to show the mayor using drugs.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board thanked Ford for his “many years of service” and said it will “pursue a different direction” with a new volunteer head coach for the Don Bosco Eagles in Etobicoke.
The school board announced its decision shortly after Ford’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, told reporters he believes the allegations about the mayor’s drug use are untrue.
Doug Ford spoke to reporters at city hall Wednesday afternoon for the first time since news surfaced of an alleged video that is reported to show the mayor using drugs and making offensive remarks.
“Rob’s telling me these stories untrue, that the accusations are ridiculous,” Doug Ford said.“And I believe him.”
He described his brother as an “honest and hardworking man,” who has “dedicated his life to serving others.”
School board spokesperson John Yan said the decision to find a new football coach was not prompted by the current controversy surrounding Ford.
The board had been reviewing the mayor’s coaching role since he made disparaging remarks about the Don Bosco school and its football players during a media interview in March.
In the interview with Sun News, Ford said that Don Bosco is a “tough school” and that “a lot of these kids come from gangs” and “broken homes.”
Yan said Ford’s comments “painted a negative picture of the entire Don Bosco community.”
Over the years, Ford devoted much of his spare time to the Don Bosco Eagles as volunteer coach and was often criticized for spending time on the football field instead of his office or in council meetings.
Ford’s brother told reporters Wednesday that all of the mayor’s successes and accomplishments are being overshadowed “by the constant stream of accusations coming forward against this mayor.”
Doug Ford added the mayor would not be “pressured” into making a statement about the alleged video that reportedly showed him smoking crack.
“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.”
Mayor Ford has said very little about the issue since reports of the alleged video were first published late last week, calling the allegations “ridiculous.”
Reporters were waiting outside the mayor’s Etobicoke home on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, but on both days Ford left his home without commenting.
Late Wednesday morning, CTV Toronto’s Austin Delaney caught up with Ford outside a gas station.
When asked about when he would address the allegations, Ford replied: “Better pack up your pillow and your sleeping bag outside, partner,” alluding to the reporters who have gathered outside his home and at city hall.
Ford did not reply when asked if he has ever smoked crack.
Doug Ford said his family has been “harassed” since news of the alleged video broke.
“Never, ever has a Canadian politician or his family been targeted by the media this way.”
Earlier in the day, Toronto councillor and Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he has asked the mayor to address the controversy.
“(He said) he’s always thinking about it,” Holyday told reporters at city hall Wednesday morning, adding that the mayor must “clearly state his position,” on the matter.
“Until he does that, it won’t go away,” Holyday said. “And it might not go away then, but at least people will have a choice of what to believe.”
Reports of the alleged video first surfaced on U.S. website Gawker and later in the Toronto Star.
The existence and content of the video has not been authenticated by CTV News.
Gawker has since launched a crowdsourcing campaign in hopes of raising $200,000 to purchase the alleged video, which it says it will post online. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than $112,000 has been raised.
Doug Ford called the fundraising campaign “disgusting and morally wrong.”
“Trying to give away prizes to raise money for drug dealers and extortionists is disgraceful,” he said.
With files from Christina Commisso and CTV Toronto’s Naomi Parness