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Canada abuzz over purported crack video of mayor


May 17. 2013 3:40PM
Associated Press


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his home on Friday, May 17, 2013, after published reports said a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. A report published Thursday night said the video is being shopped around by a group of men allegedly involved in the drug trade. The Toronto Star said, however, it had no way to verify the video. Ford called the allegations ridiculous.  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

(AP) A video purportedly of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack has caused an uproar in Canada. Ford on Friday called the allegations "ridiculous."


The video has not been released publicly, and there is no way to verify whether it is authentic. Reports by gossip website Gawker and the Toronto Star said it was taken by a man who claimed he had sold crack to Ford. The Associated Press hasn't seen the video.


The conservative mayor of Canada's largest city emerged from his house on Friday and called the allegations "ridiculous."


Ford refused to take questions. In brief comments outside his office, he said it was "another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me. And that's all I've got to say for now."


A lawyer for Ford didn't respond to messages seeking comment. Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said investigators were "monitoring the situation closely."


The Star reported that two reporters 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.


The Star also reported that Ford made an anti-gay slur against the leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau.


Ford later appeared Friday at a previously scheduled ceremony marking International Day Against Homophobia.


Ford has been embroiled in 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.


He has also been accused of flouting conflict of interest rules and making obscene gestures at residents from his car, and he has had high-profile shouting altercations with a Toronto Transit worker as well as a Toronto Star reporter.


Ford, a city councilor for years, once said Toronto would be better off if it didn't accept more immigrants. Half of the city's population was born outside Canada.


Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday questioned the authenticity of the video, saying "video can be altered" and "drug dealers can't be trusted."


Holyday said he has not spoken to Ford or his staff since the allegations surfaced, but noted he still believes in the mayor "at this point."


"I wouldn't want my career or my credibility resting on the word of drug dealers," Holyday said.


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.


Associated Press
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