Toronto mayor's brother delivers defense

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Associated Press

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 22 at 5:36 PM

TORONTO (AP) — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's brother said Wednesday that Ford has told him that reports of a purported video that appears to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine are untrue and that the media is trying to destroy his brother.

The story has caused an uproar in Canada, and the mayor and Toronto have become the butt of jokes on late night TV in the U.S. Ford has to yet to make substantive comments or take questions.

City Councilor Doug Ford took to a microphone at City Hall to deliver a long, rambling attack on the media in defense of brother.

"Rob is telling me these stories are untrue, that these allegations are ridiculous and I believe him," Ford said.

Doug Ford said that no politician has nver been targeted in Canada as much as Rob Ford, and that he was right to ignore questions from the media.

"If the mayor stopped and held a press conference every time the media made up a story about him, we would never have accomplished what we have," said Ford, who also refused to answer questions from reporters.

Another close ally of the mayor said Ford has followed legal advice in remaining mostly silent. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he's been told by Ford and his aides that lawyers have advised the mayor that saying less is better. Holyday said he doesn't know why that advice has been given.

Holyday and others were urging Ford to address the video as the mayor of Canada's largest city continued to duck questions. He avoided a throng of reporters on Tuesday in his first public appearances following a long holiday weekend in Canada.

The mayor has repeatedly ignored reporters, but got into an exchange with a local television reporter at a Tim Hortons doughnut shop inside a convenience store on Wednesday morning.

"Are you going to escort me all the way to city hall too," Rob Ford mockingly asked a reporter for CTV television. "Did you bring your sleeping bag? Did you bring your pillow?

"Make sure you pick up your pillow and your sleeping bag outside tonight, partner. Do you want me to make your bed for you tonight? Make sure you camp out tonight."

The alleged crack smoking video has not been released publicly and there is no way to verify whether it is authentic. Reports on the gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who claimed they had sold the drug to Ford. The Associated Press hasn't seen the video.

The Star reported that two journalists watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it. Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.

The Star also reported that Ford allegedly made an anti-gay slur against the leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and a racist remark about high school football students he coaches.

The Toronto Catholic District School board said in a statement that Ford had been fired Wednesday as coach of the Don Bosco Eagles Football program.

Board spokesman John Yan said the decision had nothing to do with the video but rather with comments the mayor made to the Sun TV Network.

"The mayor in the interview characterized the parent community here as not caring about their kids, that the students were involved in gangs and guns that if it weren't for him they would be in jail," Yan said. "I don't know of any parent who would want themselves characterized in the public media as negligent of their kids."

In brief comments at different times on Friday, Ford called the crack video allegations "ridiculous" and "another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me. And that's all I've got to say for now."

Holyday, Ford's ally, said it's unfortunate that the city is finding itself the butt of jokes on late night U.S. talk shows. Both "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" poked fun at the mayor and the city late Tuesday.

"The mayor has to come out and speak to the media," said Holyday said. "He has to clearly state his position on the whole thing. Until he does that it won't go away."

City Councilor Jaye Robinson said the wrong Ford talked on Wednesday.

"He's the mayor of our city. His big brother Doug Ford is not the mayor of our city and he needs to come forward and tell us what his true and what is not and move forward," Robinson said.

Ford has been embroiled in almost weekly controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but these are the most serious allegations he's faced yet. The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that he was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he appeared intoxicated.

During his campaign for mayor, Ford vehemently denied a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida, but later acknowledged it was true. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.

While in office, he has been accused of flouting conflict of interest rules and making obscene gestures at locals from his car.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.

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