Toronto police chief avoids saying ‘Rob Ford’ in conference about video

The video exists, but Ford says he won’t resign


Nathan Denette/CP

It was one of the most anticipated press conferences for journalists and citizens in the Big Smoke this year. Camera crews and reporters, more than 20 in all, lined three walls of the media gallery at the headquarters of the Toronto Police Service, jostling for space and finding spots to sit on the floor where they could get the best view.

Police Chief Bill Blair made his entrance at precisely 11:30, pausing in the middle of the room for pictures. His speech was crafted to build up suspense till he dropped the bombshell: Police had recovered a video that media had widely reported on since May that allegedly showed mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.

“On Oct. the 29th, on Tuesday of this week, we received information from our computer technology section that in the examination of a hard drive that had been seized on June 13th, we were able to identify a number of files that had been deleted and that they were able to recover those files,” Blair said. “As a result, I have been advised that we are now in possession of a recovered digital video file relevant to the investigations that have been conducted. That file contains video images which appear to be those images which were previously reported in the press with respect to events that took place, we believe at a house in Etobicoke.”

Blair stopped short of describing exactly what the mayor is doing in the video, saying that it is evidence that will be presented before the courts who will then determine the admissibility of this evidence if a trial takes place. The revelation brought a barrage of questions from reporters all speaking at the same time.

This is the first time police have confirmed the existence of the video and the mayor’s appearance in it. Journalists at the Toronto Star and Gawker claimed to have seen the video, but Ford has always insisted the video does not exist.

Blair said multiple video files were recovered, two of which are relevant to the investigation. He confirmed that one of the files is the one identified in media coverage throughout the summer.

The hard drive with the video was seized at the conclusion of Project Traveller on June 13. The project targeted drug-dealing gangs in the city and resulted in several dozen arrests and the laying of over 200 charges. However, evidence began to emerge that other criminal activities were taking place that were not encompassed by Project Traveller’s mandate, and Blair directed his officers to investigate further.

On June 13, officers seized several hard drives and cell phones. It is on one of these hard drives that forensic investigators were able to retrieve the deleted video file with the mayor in it.

The new video evidence led to the arrest of Ford’s friend and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, 35, this morning. Lisi has been charged with extortion. He was previously arrested on October 1 and charged with possessing and trafficking marijuana.

For an event during which the main focus was Rob Ford, the police chief delicately avoided uttering his name throughout the 20-minute press conference. When asked if the mayor had been interviewed, Blair simply said that interview had not yet taken place. It wasn’t until a reporter asked him why he couldn’t just say Rob Ford appears in the video, he answered, with just the slightest hint of hesitation, at six minutes and 15 seconds into the conference: “I think, i think it’s fair to say the mayor does appear in those, in that video, but I’m not going to, to get into the detail of what activity is depicted in that video.”

Thereafter, the chief referred to Rob Ford only as “the mayor.”

Frank Gunn/CP

As for the mayor, Ford addressed reporters at city hall in the afternoon, after avoiding the ones outside of his house in the morning.

Stepping outside of his office, which had been decorated with fake blood and spider webs for Halloween, Ford said he was not going to resign. The Mayor said little else. “I wish I could come out and defend myself, but I can’t. It’s before the courts. That’s all I can say right now,” he told the dozens of reporters outside his office.

Blair said there is no evidence to charge the mayor for any criminal wrongdoing. He added that people cannot be compelled to cooperate in investigations, suggesting the mayor may have declined to be interviewed by police. However, Blair did say that he was disappointed by what he saw in the video.

“As a citizen of Toronto, I’m disappointed. This is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city, and that concerns me.”


Toronto police chief avoids saying ‘Rob Ford’ in conference about video

  1. I admire the man, i wish our Pm had half the balls this guy has. But t hese media maggots should arrested for disrupting this man, how can he do his job with these maggots all over the place, it’ our taxpayer money they are playing with. He has been elected by the majority of people, so let him do what he was elected to do. If they were to remove every person that has contact with drugs in their private life, the municipal offices would be nearly empty

    • Lies, extortion, murder? Who cares…just let the mayor do his job for chrissakes!

      I guess this is going to take a toll on “business” for you, huh?

    • Lies, bluster & bravado are not evidence of balls. They are evidence of a man who is unfit to hold public office.

    • Aside from what Rob Ford had to say, that’s about the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day.

    • Jo: Are you really that stupid or is it an act – satire, even?

      Fraud has no “balls”, to quote yourself; he has lied throughout this entire fiasco and now – like the rat that he is – he’s cornered … and you support this sh*t? Give your head a shake, get a (even proverbial) life and realise that you’re wasting absolutely everybody’s time – including your own – by making it a point to even come on here and expend your energy on the keyboard. How do you “admire” a deceitful clown like that?

      You, yours & every Fraud apologist are finished.

    • Yeah, it was the media who introduced Ford to his apparently criminal cronies and then put the cops on his tail. Just ask Blair. He’ll tell you he takes his orders from the Star.

    • How much money has Ford cost the city with this police surveillance? How much money has he cost the city with trashing the Transit City plan, and with supporting a stupid subway boondoggle that is worse than the less expensive and more extensive LRT?
      Ford is a weak mayor. He does not do any work. He is not able to get people to work together, he has no vision, he has not been able to bring in any private money for transit. Plus we have all the lies, addictions and criminal behaviour.

      He is making terrible decisions.
      If he were an ordinary employee, he would have been gone long ago.

  2. Trudeau took illegal drugs as an elected official and MacLeans said it was cool and hip, so I guess Ford’s alright too.
    Or does that just apply to politicians they wanna sleep with.

    • There is a vast difference between a person who occasionally smokes pot & one who gives every indication that they have a substance abuse problem. Moreover, we now have proof positive that Ford lied when he said “I cannot comment on a video which does not exist”. He said the video didn’t exist because he thought it had been destroyed.

      • What astounding hypocrisy. The mental gymnastics you must go through to actually believe that must be exhausting.

    • It would be different if Ford had just admitted it, said he needed to take a break for rehab. He could have come back stronger. But no. He is too stubborn and stupid to admit when he is wrong. He looks very much like an alcoholic and could possibly be an addict. He is too caught up in his delusion of denial. I have compassion for him. But I also don’t want him running the city.

  3. The argument that we can compare the Rob Ford fiasco to Justin Trudeau saying he smoked pot is completely ludicrous. If mayor Ford had initiated a press conference in which he said “look, I have occasionally smoked crack cocaine and while it’s not really for me, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people think it’s pretty harmless and should be legalized. Perhaps it’s time for us to have a discussion about this as a city’ then maybe we could compare the two scenarios. That’s not even close to what happened, so let’s let that deflection go shall we….

  4. “As a citizen of Toronto, I’m disappointed. This is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city, and that concerns me.”

    This coming from the man who oversaw the most grievous violation of Canadian civil rights since 1942, and who has never accepted responsibility for that. Ford is not the only person damaging Toronto’s reputation.

  5. The thing that disturbs me most is the sudden realization that our Prime Minister hangs out with crack heads.

    • Nope…Just ask Harper: “I never had fishing relations with that man.”

  6. Rob Ford’s mayoralty isn’t even beneficial to Rob Ford. He is surrounded by people that are absolutely toxic to him – Lisi, his brother, etc. I don’t think he is really in control (he kind of reminds me of Michael Jackson – surrounded by hangers-on that plied him with drugs to gain influence). Meanwhile he’s consistently turned away the people that could have helped him be a successful mayor (Kouvalis, Towhey). If you saw him in that press conference today, the guy looks like a walking corpse.

    Rob Ford needs rehab pronto. He needs to do it for the city, for his family, and for himself. If he finds the strength to make that move, he can do a lot of good as a role model, and by shining a light on a real social problem (look at how Conrad Black, arguably, gained in stature by serving his time in prison and developing a more enlightened view of the treatment of felons).

    • Rehab?

      I don’t want this fool as our figurehead any longer.

  7. He said enough. Between the warrant and the video, it’s like Halloween and Christmas all at once.

  8. Why all of here acting like Angles and have no mistakes and your mama brought you to earth so wow, the only thing behind this shit I see its all not related to his job, he is a great person and working hard for tax payers… . Lord help you Rob Ford

    • Do you want an alcoholic + addict running the city? Do you want someone who is so far into denying reality, and making terrible personal choices, making civic decisions affecting millions of dollars? I don’t even want him behind the wheel of a car, never mind steering the city’s ship. Ford needs help. He needs to take care of his health before he keels over. Full stop.

  9. If Rob Ford was a black man, his office term would have already ended.

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