Police reopen probe into Toronto mayor's drug use
OTTAWA, Canada – Police reopened an investigation into illicit drug use by Toronto's scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford, who left for rehab Thursday, May 1, after a new video emerged allegedly showing him recently smoking crack.
"Investigators would be interested to see what new information there is" in the case, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said in a statement.
Ford announced late Wednesday, April 30, that he was taking a leave of absence in order to enter rehab, even as he continues his bid for re-election.
Television cameras showed the mayor leaving his home in the early morning, with a large stuffed suitcase in tow.
Ford, 44, has already admitted to binge drinking and smoking crack and has been campaigning on a give-me-another-chance platform.
The Globe and Mail newspaper published a screen grab from video it said its reporters had viewed, in which Ford is seen holding a metal pipe alleged to contain the addictive cocaine derivative.
In the full video, which the paper said was shot by a self-described drug dealer, the mayor of North America's fourth largest city is seen taking a hit from the copper-colored pipe, exhaling a cloud of smoke and shaking his right hand frantically, the Globe and Mail said.
The dealer says the video was shot in the early hours of Saturday, April 26, in the basement of the home of Ford's sister Kathy, who has struggled with drug addiction herself.
A man resembling Alessandro Lisi – the mayor's former driver who has been charged with drug dealing and extortion – and Kathy Ford are also seen in the video, the Globe and Mail said.
The newspaper said it had been offered an opportunity to buy the video but declined, and instead paid Can$10,000 (US$9,100) for still images from it.
Editor-in-chief David Walmsley said this was "not our normal practice" but added it was important for voters to "have all the facts about who is running Canada's largest city, especially in the middle of a mayoralty campaign."
In a separate audio recording of the mayor at a bar on Monday, April 28, obtained by the Toronto Sun, Ford reportedly complains about his wife Renata and makes lewd comments about mayoral candidate Karen Stintz, saying: "I'd like to (expletive) jam her."
Stintz reacted at a press conference Thursday, saying: "Rob Ford's comments are gross."
"I am disappointed with the misogynist language used by Rob Ford," she said. "Rob Ford needs to get help."
"Mr. Ford needs to pack up his circus," another mayoral candidate, Olivia Chow, said. "He has offended many and hurt many."
'Problem with alcohol'
"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time," Ford said in a statement late Wednesday.
"Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help."
Ford – who is seeking re-election despite having had his duties reduced in the wake of the scandal – will attend a "facility that assists people with substance abuse difficulties," his lawyer, Dennis Morris, told reporters.
The mayor burst into international headlines last year when a different alleged drug dealer tried to sell another video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack, to media outlets in Canada and the United States.
Then, Ford denied using the drug. He later acknowledged he had smoked crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor" but said he was not an addict.
Since then Ford has been filmed numerous times in public acting erratic and impaired.
In March, Toronto police handed over their investigation of Ford and Lisi to the Ontario Provincial Police, almost six months after authorities first revealed they possessed the original video of Ford smoking crack, obtained from a hard drive in a drug raid.
The OPP decided no charges would be laid against Ford.
Lisi remains out on bail on the extortion charges related to his attempts to recover the infamous cell phone video. – Rappler.com