TORONTO – Calling it “urgent” that the city’s beleaguered mayor address the crack video scandal raging around him, Toronto’s deputy mayor said Friday residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the situation.
Doug Holyday said council’s executive committee would be issuing a formal statement aimed at reassuring people, and that it would also urge Mayor Rob Ford to address the week-old allegations that he smoked crack cocaine.
“If the mayor has another version, he should be out there putting that forward so the people can make a decision,” Holyday said.
“At this point it hasn’t happened, but I think the longer that goes on, the worse it gets.”
Holyday said he was not prepared to call for Ford’s resignation if the mayor refuses to speak up. Nor would he say whether he believed Ford has a substance abuse problem.
Ford has spent the past week evading reporters and ducking in and out of city hall since the American website Gawker and the Toronto Star reported viewing a cellphone video they said was taken by a drug dealer.
The video — its authenticity has not been verified — appeared to show Ford smoking what looked like crack cocaine, the publications said.
Last Friday, Ford called the allegations “ridiculous” but has otherwise refused to deal with them, despite repeated urging from friends and rivals alike that he do so.
The letter from the executive committee will make it clear the mayor’s inner circle believes the silence can’t last.
Holyday insisted the city was still functioning, saying governance was bigger than any one person.
“The business of the city will continue as usual,” Holyday said.
“The water still comes out of your tap, the fire department is still working.”
On Thursday, Ford’s chief of staff Mark Towhey left the job.
Towhey would only say he did not resign but several reports cited sources as saying Ford fired him after he urged the mayor to get help.
Holyday, a close Ford ally, said the mayor was a good listener but he expressed frustration at the lack of follow-through.
“Listening and actions are two different things, and sometimes I don’t see the action after we’ve had the conversation,” Holyday said.
Other reports said the final straw came when the mayor wanted his staff to help organize a pizza party for the high school football team he coached, even though the school board had relieved him of his duties.
As he had done for days, Ford again dodged reporters Thursday and a statement issued by his office did not say why Towhey had left staff.
Gawker has so far raised more than $160,000 toward a goal of $200,000 it said it needed to buy the video.
However, editor John Cook says the drug dealer who has the video has been unreachable in recent days, and said his confidence that the deal to buy the video could go through was “diminished.”