Mayor Rob Ford is calling recent allegations of videotaped drug use “absolutely not true.”
Outside his Etobicoke home on Friday morning, Ford spoke to a group of waiting reporters, saying “Absolutely not true…it’s ridiculous.”
He then shook his head, got into his vehicle and drove away.
On Friday afternoon at city hall, Ford echoed the comments: “These allegations are ridiculous. It’s another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me.”
Journalists at the Toronto Star reported Thursday they have seen a video that appears to show Ford using drugs.
In its report, the Star said two of its reporters had watched the video on May 3 that it said showed an intoxicated Ford in a room, sitting in a chair, and lighting and smoking from what appeared to be a glass crack pipe.
U.S.-based gossip website Gawker.com said Thursday night that the video is being shopped around by a group of men allegedly involved in the drug trade. The Toronto Star said, however, it had no way to verify the video.
CityNews has not seen the video and has not been able to verify its authenticity.
The video has not yet been made public. Star reporter Kevin Donovan said in a live chat on the newspaper’s website he hoped the video would be “preserved” and not destroyed before it can be seen. Donovan also said the Star would not pay six figures for the tape and hoped it would be made available “free of charge.”
Earlier Friday, deputy mayor Doug Holyday says he doesn’t believe the shocking reports.
“Videos can be altered and drug dealers can’t be trusted. I don’t know what we’re dealing with here and until we do I don’t really have much to say,” Holyday said at city hall Friday.
“I have not seen any indication of him using any substances like this or anything else for that matter,” he added.
It’s just the latest in a series of scandals plaguing Ford’s administration that have distracted from issues like public transit, the expansion of Porter airlines and a now-quashed downtown casino.
In March, the Star reported that Ford was asked to leave the Garrison Ball at the Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place because he appeared to be impaired. Earlier that month, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson alleged Ford made inappropriate comments towards her and then grabbed her buttocks – both of which Ford adamantly denies.
Meanwhile, Holyday also told reporters Friday morning that he believes the mayor is fit for the job but, “if these accusations were substantiated, that would change a lot of things.”
Holyday said he had not yet spoken to the mayor or the mayor’s office. He said he would advise Ford to give a statement to the media, “the sooner the better.”
“It certainly isn’t helpful [to the city’s reputation],” Holyday said.
“Whether you can blame the mayor or not depends on whether the story is true. I don’t know that and I don’t know that many of you do.”
The Star said Friday it had seen the tape on May 3 but the paper waited to publish the story.
The Star said two of its reporters watched the video and said it appears to show Ford in a room, sitting in a chair and using drugs.
The Star also alleges Ford makes several disparaging and crude remarks about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the high school football team he coaches.
A lawyer retained by Ford, Dennis Morris, who wasn’t immediately available for comment, told the newspaper that Thursday’s publication by the Gawker website of some details related to the video was “false and defamatory.”
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said Friday investigators were “monitoring the situation closely.”
With files from The Canadian Press