Rob Ford avoids media eager to ask about alleged video
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2013 8:38AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2013 3:21PM EDT
In the glare of an intense media spotlight, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has yet to address the media regarding reports that he was recorded on video allegedly smoking crack cocaine.
Ford was briefly spotted in an elevator on his way to a council meeting on Tuesday morning. When the doors of the elevator opened, Ford stood with his back turned to the crowd of reporters and photographers waiting outside.
It was the embattled Toronto mayor’s first public appearance since Friday, after reports of the alleged video first appeared on U.S. gossip website Gawker, and subsequently in the Toronto Star.
Neither Ford nor his staff responded when asked if the mayor would hold a press conference on Tuesday.
Ford did, however, speak up during a special council meeting in which councillors debated a proposed downtown casino.
Speaking to council during the meeting, Ford called on his colleagues to vote against any casino being built in the downtown core, saying the facility would not serve Toronto’s best interests.
After delivering a six-minute speech on the issue, Ford left council chambers without taking questions.
The casino debate was expected to be shelved last week, after Ford announced the deal to host a gaming facility was “dead.” Ford wanted a guarantee of at least $100 million a year in revenue for the city from the province, but under a revised funding formula, city staff estimate that Toronto would receive about $39 million in hosting fees for a downtown casino.
However, the issue was put back on the agenda after a majority of councillors signed their names to a petition asking that the debate go ahead.
Will Ford break silence?
Ford has said little since news of the alleged video broke.
In brief remarks addressing the matter Friday, Ford called the claims “ridiculous.” The video's authenticity has not been substantiated.
Ford and his brother Coun. Doug Ford cancelled their weekly radio talk show that was supposed to air Sunday, and the mayor remained out of sight over the Victoria Day long weekend.
On Monday, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he expects Ford to answer reporters’ questions about the alleged video early this week and said it was possible that some councillors would ask about it during Tuesday’s meeting.
“Some members of council might try to put this on the floor of council to embarrass him,” Holyday told CP24 Monday afternoon.
“But I don’t imagine the speaker will let that stand in order. And I don’t think it is in order. There isn’t an item on the agenda to deal with this subject. And we’re there to deal with casinos, and that’s what we’ll deal with.”
Holyday said he “was stunned” when he first heard about the allegations against Ford, and said he has “never even seen him take a drink.”
But he said the mayor is “going to have to give some explanation,” because the issue is “not going to go away.”
“And if the video doesn’t come out, then I don’t know where we stand because it’s almost like someone repeating a story that someone else told them,” Holyday said. “And that’s about what it is in this case. Now it’s a video, which might be a little stronger than a statement, but it still isn’t proof positive and the video itself would have to be examined.”
Since news of the alleged video broke late last week, Gawker has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to raise the $200,000 needed to purchase the video.
More than $89,000 was raised through donations on the website Indiegogo as of Tuesday afternoon.