A cellphone video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine is being shopped around Toronto by a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade.
Two Torstar News Service reporters have viewed the video three times. It appears to show Ford in a room, sitting in a chair, wearing a white shirt, top buttons open, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. Ford is incoherent, trading jibes with an off-camera speaker who goads the clearly impaired Mayor by raising topics including Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and the Don Bosco high school football team Ford coaches.
“I’m f—–g right wing,” Ford mutters at one point. “Everyone expects me to be right-wing, I’m…” and his voice trails off.
At another point he is heard calling Trudeau a “fag.” Later in the 90 second video he is asked about the football team and he appears to say (though he is mumbling, “they are just f—–g minorities.”
Torstar News Service had no way to verify the video, which appears to clearly show Ford in a well lit room. What follows is an account based on what both reporters viewed on the video screen. Attempts to reach the Mayor, members of his staff to get comment on this story were unsuccessful.
A lawyer retained by Ford, Dennis Morris, said that Thursday’s publication by the Gawker website of some details related to the video was “false and defamatory.” Morris told Torstar News Service that by viewing a video it is impossible to tell what a person is doing. “How can you indicate what the person is actually doing or smoking,”Morris said.
Ford’s chief of staff, Mark Towhey, would not listen to questions by Torstar News Service on Thursday night and abruptly hung up when Torstar News Service called.
The video was taken on a smartphone by a person who said he has supplied crack cocaine to the Mayor.
Throughout the video Ford’s eyes are half closed. He lolls back in his chair, sometimes waving his arms around erratically. He raises a lighter in his hand at several points and moves it in a circle motion beneath the glass bowl of the pipe, then inhales deeply.
Torstar News Service reporters (Donovan and Doolittle) were shown the video on the evening of Friday May 3 in the back of a car parked in an apartment complex at Dixon Rd. near Kipling Avenue in the north end of Etobicoke. They were allowed to watch and listen to the video three times. After, both reporters separately made written notes of what they saw and heard. Both reporters, prior to watching the video, studied numerous City Hall related videos of Ford and to the best of the reporter’s abilities they separately concluded the man in the video was Mayor Ford.
In the video, what appears to be afternoon sunlight is streaming through partially closed window blinds, lighting Ford’s face. The video ends with the ringing of a cellphone (it is not clear if it is the cellphone that is being used to video the scene). The ring tone, which is a song, startles the Mayor, whose slitted eyes open a bit and he is heard to say “that phone better not be on.”
The two Torstar News Service reporters were approached with an offer to purchase the video shortly after Torstar News Service’s story on Ford’s removal due to apparent intoxication of some sort from the Garrison Ball. The story, published March 26 of this year, described a concern by unnamed associates and staffers at City Hall that Ford had a substance abuse problem. Ford dismissed the Torstar News Service story, called Torstar News Service “pathological liars” and invited the newspaper to sue him. Garrison Ball attendees interviewed by Torstar News Service did not say they smelled alcohol. One said, “he seemed either drunk, high or had a medical condition.”
After the story was published Torstar News Service was contacted by two separate people who purported to have information on Ford abusing crack cocaine.
One person, who described himself as a community organizer in the Somali community, told Torstar News Service he had copies of a video that, he said, showed Ford smoking crack. What followed was a protracted discussion between the man and Torstar News Service reporters. The man said he represented two Somali men who had supplied crack cocaine to the Mayor on several occasions, all in the Dixon Rd. area. Torstar News Service was not able to verify those claims.
The Somali man who approached Torstar News Service said his two associates (one had been present when the video was made and had done the filming) wanted “six figures for the video.” At another point he said they had originally wanted $1 million, but he had convinced them to lower the price. Asked why they were selling the video, the Somali man said he wanted to make a change in his life and use the money to move out west to Calgary.
Torstar News Service did not pay money and did not obtain a copy of the video.
Initially, the Somali man who contacted Torstar News Service said he had information about “a Toronto politician.” When Torstar News Service met him the first time he showed a photo of Ford dressed in sweat pants, standing in the driveway of a brickhouse with three other men. The one on the left in the picture had apparently been killed over the weekend on King Street near the Loki Lounge. The man, with his strong forehead and distinctive jawline, looked like Anthony Smith, 21, who indeed had been killed recently.
Over the last month Torstar News Service has had several meetings with the Somali man, culminating with the May 3 meeting at the Dixon Rd. apartment complex.
The reporters had told the Somali man that they wanted to see the video. A meeting was arranged. First, the reporters were told to drive to the parking lot of an Etobicoke strip mall. They were told to leave their bags and cellphones in their own cars and get in his. The drive lasted less than 5 minutes. They pulled into the parking lot of the Dixon Rd. high rise complex.
The Somali man got out of his car and returned with his associate.
The associate, also Somali, was a man in his early to mid 20s. He looked nervous and was shaking slightly. He had thick scabs on his arm.
He pulled out an iPhone – he would not let the reporters hold it. At first he wouldn’t let the sound play, but then relented.
In a video clip less than two-minutes long, an incoherent and rambling Mayor Rob Ford can clearly be seen smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
He is sitting on a chair holding a glass pipe with a blackened top and a lighter. Ford is the only person on the video, but there are at least two other people in the room – one, a man who said he is his dealer, secretly recording him, and another, an anonymous voice asking him questions.
The footage begins with the mayor mumbling. His eyes are half closed. He waves his arms around erratically. A man’s voice tells him he should be coaching football –because that’s what he’s good at.
Ford agrees and nods his head, bobbing on his chair.
He says something like “Yeah, I take these kids… minorities” but soon he rambles off again.
Ford says something like: “Everyone expects me to be right-wing, I’m” and again he trails off.
At one point he raises the lighter and moves it in a circle motion beneath it, inhaling deeply.
Next, the voice starts in on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. The man says he can’t stand him and that he wants to shove his foot up the young leader’s “ass.”
Ford nods and bobs on his chair and says yes, “Justin Trudeau’s a fag.”
The man taping the mayor keeps the video trained on him. Then it rings. Ford looks at the camera and says something like “that better not be on.”
The phone shuts off.