Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he won’t resign as head of Canada’s biggest city after police recovered a video showing images “consistent” with media reports he was smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
“I have no reason to resign,” Ford told reporters outside his office today. “I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately I can’t because it’s before the courts.”
Ford, 44, was in a video recovered on Oct. 29 from a hard drive that had been seized in a drug investigation, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said.
“I think it’s fair to say the mayor does appear in that video,” Blair told reporters today. There isn’t enough evidence in the video to warrant criminal charges and police haven’t interviewed Ford, he said.
The Toronto Star reported on May 16 they had seen a video that showed Ford smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. U.S. website Gawker was the first to report on the video and raised $200,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to buy it.
The mayor said in May he doesn’t smoke crack cocaine and said the video didn’t exist.
A message left at the mayor’s office wasn’t immediately returned.
“As a citizen of Toronto I’m disappointed,” Blair said. “This is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city,” he said.
A 500-page police document filed in court was released today detailing “Project Brazen 2,” a surveillance operation in connection with the probe.
The document shows photos of multiple meetings between Ford and Alexander Lisi, who police arrested this morning on charges of extortion, Blair said. Lisi was arrested earlier this month on drug charges and then released.
Rob Ford has said Lisi was a friend.
“I’m quite shocked,” Paula Fletcher, a Toronto city councilor said on CP24 television. “This is unprecedented in the city of Toronto. I believe that up to this point many people have given the mayor the benefit of the doubt. With the chief’s press conference today, that day is probably done.”
Michael Thompson, a city councillor and chairman of the economic development and culture committee, said if Ford is in the video it calls into question the integrity of the mayor.
``It has an impact on the city, obviously,'' said Thompson, who was attending the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Toronto today. ``But the fact is it's just one person and no one person can represent the city the way that all the citizens do.''