TORONTO — Toronto police said Thursday they have obtained a video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking a crack pipe — a video that Ford had claimed didn’t exist and has been at the core of a scandal that has embarrassed and gripped Canada for months.
Police Chief Bill Blair said the video, recovered after being deleted from a computer hard drive, did not provide grounds to press charges. Ford, a populist mayor who has repeatedly made headlines for his bizarre behavior, vowed not to resign.
Speaking outside the door his office, where visitors were free to check out the Halloween decorations, Ford said with a smile: “I have no reason to resign.” He said he couldn’t defend himself because the affair is part of a criminal investigation involving an associate, adding: “That’s all I can say right now.” Toronto police discovered the video while conducting a huge surveillance operation into a friend and sometimes driver suspected of providing Ford with drugs.
Ford faced allegations in May that he had been caught on video puffing from a glass crack pipe. Two reporters with the Toronto Star said they saw the video, but it has not been released publicly. Ford said he does not smoke crack and that the video did not exist.
The scandal has been the fodder of jokes on U.S. late night television and has cast Canada’s largest city and financial capital in an unflattering light.
Ford was elected mayor three years ago on a wave of discontent simmering in the city’s outlying suburbs. Since then, he has survived an attempt to remove him from office on conflict-of-interest charges and has appeared in the news for his increasingly odd behavior. Through it all, the mayor has repeatedly refused to resign and pledged to run for re-election next year.
But the pressure ramped up Thursday with all four major dailies in the city calling on Ford to resign.
On Thursday, Blair said the video of the mayor “depicts images that are consistent with those previously reported in the press.”
Blair said the video will come out when Ford’s associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug charges.