In an unprecedented move, six members of Rob Ford’s hand-picked executive committee are publicly pressuring the mayor to formally address reports of drug use.
Deputy mayor Doug Holyday said Friday a letter was being prepared by some members of the executive committee. The open letter was issued in the afternoon and signed by six members including Jaye Robinson, Gary Crawford, Peter Milczyn and Holyday.
“We ask the Mayor to definitively address the allegations before him. The allegations need to be addressed openly and transparently,” the letter stated.
“We are encouraging the Mayor to address this matter so that we can continue to focus on serving the people of Toronto.”
The extraordinary step comes a day after the mayor’s chief of staff Mark Towhey was fired over what media reports say was his advice for Ford to go away and get help for his alleged addiction. Holyday said he hasn’t spoken with Towhey since his dismissal but that “I guess he and Mark had a serious disagreement over what I can’t tell you.”
Ford was expected to address the media at 3:30 p.m. at city hall after being briefed by the executive committee, his press secretary said.
On May 16, Gawker and the Toronto Star reported viewing a video being shopped around showing Ford smoking from what appears to be a crack pipe and making homophobic and racist slurs. CityNews hasn’t viewed the video and cannot verify its authenticity.
The activity at city hall hit a frenetic pace with closed door meetings in recent days as Gawker said Thursday night it was close to reaching its goal of raising $200,000 to pay the drug dealers and post the Ford video online for the public to see.
On Friday morning, Holyday said it is “urgent” for the mayor to issue a formal comment on the matter, adding he’s concerned for Ford.
When the reports first broke, the mayor said the allegation was “absolutely not true…it’s ridiculous,” but many don’t feel the response was adequate.
“Ford did mention to me at one point that he had advice, I guess, from lawyers, that the less he said the better,” Holyday said.
If Ford was unable to fulfill his duties — for example, if he was hospitalized or on vacation — the business of the city would continue, Holyday said.
However, there is little council can do to oust the mayor, both he and municipal lawyer John Mascarin say.
Even if charges are laid and the mayor is convicted, council cannot vote him out of office. If he is incarcerated, they could, Mascarin told CityNews, but people don’t usually go to jail for first drug offences.
“Ford can chair the executive without making a statement — he’s legally entitled to do so,” Holyday said.
In an interview with 680News earlier Friday, Holyday said the mayor has not handled the allegations very well.
Listen to the interview with 680News reporter John Stall:
“To this point, he hasn’t handled it very well in my opinion…And I’ve given him my opinion and I guess he just hasn’t taken it.”
At the news conference, Holyday said that Ford always listens to him – but listening and action are two different things.
With files from 680News.com