Is it possible for a mayor of a large metropolitan city to be caught smoking crack cocaine and not be embarrassed or apologetic? Apparently so, Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, Canada reacted nonchalantly when a video was released of him smoking crack. The Toronto police department is in possession of the video and has substantiated that it is indeed Mayor Ford who was caught on tape. Mayor Ford’s response to this development is “I have no reason to resign.”
Ford has been the subject of a police investigation since May when reporters alerted the police about the video in addition to Ford’s possible ties to drug dealers. Police surveillance revealed Ford taking part in meetings with Alexander Lisi who is a suspected drug dealer. Lisi appeared to be a personal friend of Mayor Ford because of the amount of time they spend together. The surveillance also revealed a pattern of suspicious meetings between Ford and Lisi at a gas station close to Ford’s home. A junior staffer of Ford’s interviewed by police expressed concern that Lisi was supplying the mayor with illegal drugs. A football coach, who introduced the mayor to Lisi, stated that he was “mad at Lisi because he was fueling the mayor’s drug abuse.” (Toronto Star).
This all began when an alleged gang member, Mohamed Siad, was trying to sell the video to reporters. Alexander Lisi’s phone records reveal his contact with Siad as well as other gang members, David Price (a long-time friend of Mayor Ford), and Mayor Ford. All these conversations took place around the time the video surfaced. It has since been found out that Lisi and Siad were trying to sell the video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine and Lisi has been arrested for extortion. Mayor Ford, however, has not been charged with criminal activity since Toronto police chief Bill Blair has stated that the video by itself does not support bringing a criminal charge against Ford at this time. When pressed for more information Chief Blair stated that the investigation is still in progress and he will know more when the investigation is complete, leading some to speculate that the mayor is being given preferential treatment.
According to the Toronto Star, Ford is pictured alone in the video, shot on a drug dealer’s iPhone at the home of a suspected gang member. A voice off camera goads the mayor into making derogatory comments. Mayor Ford initially denied the existence of the video and allegations of drug use, but since the beginning of November he has admitted to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs for the past two years, and driving while intoxicated. The public and media outcry to Rob Ford’s illegal activities seems to have persuaded him to be apologetic but he is still refusing to step down from his elected office as mayor of Toronto. Since Toronto does not have impeachment laws, the city council has met and has stripped him of most of the powers of the office of mayor and he will serve his remaining 11 months in name only (CBC News). It has been suggested by a majority of city council members that Ford take a leave of absence to deal with his substance abuse issues, while others want him to resign. Ford continues to be recalcitrant and has stated that he will fight the city council’s decision in court and will run for reelection at the end of his term to let voters decide on his competency.
The Toronto Star has since purchased another video that shows Ford ranting and swearing and he has admitted to being “extremely, extremely inebriated” during that tirade. That revelation was followed by crude inappropriate remarks made by Ford that shocked reporters during a city hall interview in response to questions about the allegations made to police during their investigation. His comments were criticized by the city council and once again he issued an apology for his “graphic remarks” saying he was under tremendous pressure due to recent events (CBC News).
Ford has proven to be an embarrassment for the city of Toronto and he continues to make headlines in the United States as comedians have relished his bizarre behavior as material for their shows. It will be interesting to see if Mayor Rob Ford realizes the seriousness of his actions as an elected official and decides to resign his position, or if he continues to insist he is competent to fulfill his duties as mayor while abusing drugs and alcohol.
– Katrina Luque