As the scandal involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and an alleged video of him smoking crack cocaine nears the end of its second week, details remain unconfirmed. However, one thing is clear: someone very close to the mayor is leaking information to the press.
A Thursday morning story from the Toronto Star quotes anonymous sources close to the mayor who say that not only did Ford staffer David Price know where the alleged video was being held (as was reported Tuesday by the Star) he got that information from Ford himself. According to sources, the Star reports that Ford called some of his key staff members into a meting on May 17 — the day after the story about the alleged drug video broke — to tell them “our contacts” had information that the video was being held by people connected to two units in a highrise apartment complex in west Toronto.
Thursday’s story, reported by Robert Benzie — who usually reports on provincial politics — and investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, raises the question of just who this source, or sources, might be. If it is someone in the mayor’s inner circle, there aren’t too many people to choose from and the pool is getting ever smaller. Perhaps a disgruntled former staffer? Press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom resigned on Monday, following former chief of staff Mark Towhey, who was fired the week before. Political observer Mark Sholdice speculates:
These purported leaks coming out of Ford's office are very interesting. Could be one of thirteen currently employed, or three formerly.
— Mark Sholdice (@marksholdice) May 30, 2013
Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail follows the crime angle of the story, writing that there has been an arrest in the case of a murdered man who was shown in a photo with Ford. Hanad Mohamed, 23, of Toronto, has been arrested as part of the investigation into the death of Anthony Smith, reports the Globe. A man who appears to be Smith stands with his arm around Ford in a photo provided to the Toronto Star by the same men who showed two reporters the alleged video of a man who appears to be the mayor smoking from a glass pipe and making homophobic statements. Nisar Hashimi, 23, was been charged with murder earlier, reports The Globe. Mohamed was arrested in Fort McMurray, Alta. on Friday and is expected to appear in a Toronto courtroom Thursday, says the report.
While we’re talking about Ford (because, who isn’t?) the Maclean’s cover story this week is also about the mayor. In the story, “Rob Ford: Unstoppable?”, Maclean’s writer Nicholas Köhler looks at Ford’s slow-motion implosion and whether this scandal will be the one that finally removes him from office. Köhler speaks to a source who tells Maclean’s that the stress of being mayor caused Ford to turn to substance abuse early on in his term, leading to his strange behaviour, including erratic hours at work and failure to listen to his staff. The issue in on newsstands today and the full story will be posted to Macleans.ca in coming days.
Some citizens are getting a bit tired of all the Ford family headlines and Global reports that a group is planning a weekend rally in Nathan Philips Square, outside city hall, to urge the mayor to resign. So far, about 1,000 people have said they will attend.
While it may be difficult for columnists to think of anything new to say about Ford at this point, The Grid columnist Edward Keenan manages to do it, by examining what he calls “The Dougie Problem.” That would be the relationship between Ford and his older brother, the quick-tempered Coun. Doug Ford.
His column follows one by The National Post‘s Chris Selley from a day earlier, which suggests that the provincial Progressive Conservatives would be wise to distance themselves from Doug Ford, “a man for whom life seems essentially to be performance art.” The city hall performance artist has also announced his intention to run as a PC candidate in the next provincial election.
If PC leader Tim Hudak needs some stats to back up Selley’s suggestion, the Toronto Star has those Thursday morning, too. A Forum Research survey shows 48 per cent of people think the controversy surrounding Rob and Doug Ford is harming the Ontario PCs.
One last thing: a rap song by Toronto artist Charron about Mayor Rob Ford and this scandal has more than 50,000 views on Youtube. Here’s the link if you haven’t heard it already.