After months of dodging allegations, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told reporters Tuesday that he smoked crack cocaine about a year ago — probably, he said, during a “drunken stupor.”
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But … do I? Am I an addict? No,” Ford said.
“Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago,” he said about the cocaine use.
Pressure on Ford, 44, increased last week, when Toronto’s police chief announced investigators recovered a video of the mayor that purportedly shows him smoking a crack pipe. That followed allegations in two media reports in May that a video showed Ford using crack cocaine last winter.
Ford, who had previously said he did not use crack and who has not been charged with a crime, made the admission to reporters outside his office in Toronto after they asked him about the issue.
“Yes, I’ve made mistakes. All I can do is apologize and move on,” he said. He did not address his future as mayor.
Toronto City Councillor John Filion, who had just introduced a motion to take many of the mayor’s powers away from him, said shortly after the admission that Ford “needs to step aside.”
“Wow. I need a minute to absorb this,” Filion said. “I think the mayor needs to step aside and take stock of his life as this situation becomes more absurd.”
Ford said on a radio program Sunday that he was sorry for “a lot of stupid things.” He later clarified on the program — “The City” on CFRB — that his apology referred to two previously reported incidents where he appeared to have been drunk in public and “a lot of stupid things, all self-inflicted” that he didn’t detail.
He also said on that program that he wouldn’t resign despite Thursday’s announcement by police.
Ford says he didn’t lie
While speaking outside his office Tuesday, he said he hadn’t lied — apparently referring to his previous statements on the matter.
“You didn’t ask the correct questions,” he said Tuesday. “No, I’m not an addict. And no, I do not do drugs. I made mistakes in the past and all I can do is apologize.”
When he addressed the allegations in May, Ford denied crack cocaine use in the present tense.
“I do not use crack cocaine. Nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” he told reporters then, according to CNN affiliate CBC.
In May, the website Gawker and the Toronto Star newspaper published stories saying their reporters had seen 90 seconds of a cell-phone video showing Ford, as the Star described it, “inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe.”
Later in the video — as described by the Star — an “incoherent” man both the Star and Gawker claimed to be Ford ranted about a number of subjects.
The video, which has never been released publicly, shows a “clearly impaired mayor,” two reporters who say they saw the video wrote in the Star.
Then, police recovered video from deleted files on a computer hard drive that was seized during a drug and gang investigation, according to a 465-page report by Toronto police disclosed on Thursday. The report includes hundreds of redacted pages and states that police sources believe a photo of Ford that first surfaced in May was taken in front of a “trap” house used to “chop” crack.
On Thursday, Toronto Police Chief William Blair told reporters that the video featured images “consistent with those that have previously been reported in the press.” Blair said Ford appears in the video, but would not detail what he’s shown doing.
‘I want to see the tape’
Ford told reporters Tuesday that he wants to see the video.
“There’s been times when I’ve been a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I’d like to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape and a video and I know that. I want to see the state that I was in,” Ford said.
Police documents also detail evidence used to obtain a search warrant for a man suspected of drug trafficking, Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, who police say is the mayor’s friend as well as his driver. Photos collected by police show Ford and Lisi together on a number of occasions, including attending a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game, according to the documents.
Lisi was arrested Thursday and charged with extortion, according to a police statement. He is accused of using extortion to retrieve a recording, it said.
Blair said a digital video in police custody will be shown in court in an effort to support the charge against Lisi, who was released after a bail hearing Friday, his lawyer, Seth Weinstein, said.