Rob Ford stole the show on a frenzied news night

Tease the day: Toronto’s mayor faces new allegations about substance abuse


Jon Blacker/Reuters

Shocking news is hard to believe. Last night, there was lots of news, plenty of it shocking. The sun was setting on another day, literally, when newsrooms tore up their front pages and started from scratch.

Mike Duffy, the Conservative Senator who’s fighting for his political life after questions arose about how he repaid improperly claimed expenses, resigned from his party’s caucus. Paul Godfrey, the chair of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission who had pushed aggressively for new casinos in the province, walked into a meeting only to get fired—a move that saw the agency’s entire board resign in protest. And then, the pièce de résistance of an evening built to shock: a video that few saw, but everybody talked about all night, allegedly starring Toronto’s mayor. Rob Ford will never be remembered as a boring man, nor will he ever escape questions about his conduct as a public figure.

But now they claim he smoked crack cocaine, and there’s allegedly a video to prove it.

Who’s “they”? Two men who live in suburban Etobicoke, apparently. The Toronto Star claims the two men showed them a tape, via iPhone, on May 3—and that, during the 90-second video, it appears that Ford smokes crack. The Star had its version online before the night was out. All of this is alleged, none is proven, and Ottawa Citizen city hall reporter David Reevely probably put it best: The Star, he tweeted, “bet the company on what they saw.”

But the Star didn’t break the story. Gawker, the gossip blog, did. John Cook’s winding narrative went online at 8: 28 p.m. Cook reported that a tipster had contacted the website and claimed to know the guy with the video. Cook travelled to Toronto and, eventually, saw the video for himself. His conclusion was also that the man in the video was Ford, and that the man—if it was Ford—did appear to be smoking crack. The man who owned the video told Cook he wanted to sell it for six figures.

When all this had Twitter in a frenzy, and reporters around North America were reacting to the madness, the Star kicked into gear. Two reporters, Kevin Donovan and Robyn Doolittle, had been working the story for some time. Jonathan Goldsbie, a city hall reporter in Toronto, tweeted that he showed Doolittle Gawker’s headline and had “never seen someone bolt out of a room faster.” Now we know why.

What happens next? Sit back, relax, and take a wild guess. On a morning when Duffy’s the cover story on most papers, and Godfrey also found some room, and Ontario’s LCBO avoided a strike, and Montreal MP Denis Coderre finally announced his run at the city’s mayoralty—well, Ford stole the show. The mayor who’d be hard-pressed to shock his city after a tumultuous term in office somehow managed to shock a continent, even if it’s all alleged and even if no one knows what happens next.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Senator Mike Duffy’s resignation from the Conservative caucus. The National Post fronts Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s support for his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, who personally wrote a cheque to cover Duffy’s improperly claimed expenses. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Mayor Rob Ford’s alleged appearance smoking crack cocaine in a video. The Ottawa Citizen leads with Duffy’s resignation from caucus. iPolitics fronts the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s presence at the 2012 London Olympics. CBC.ca leads with Duffy’s resignation from caucus. National Newswatch showcases CBC‘s story about Duffy’s leaving caucus.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. EI benefits. Jane Kittmer, who claimed EI sickness benefits while she battled cancer during maternity leave, will receive about $5,000 from the feds, who dropped their appeal of her case. 2. National library. In the wake of Daniel Caron’s departure as head of Library and Archives Canada, librarians and archivists hope the government replaces the economist with one of their own.
3. Counterfeit. The RCMP says Canadians are so confident in the authenticity of new $100 polymer bills that they’re accepting fake bills, a practice that sees 28 counterfeits in every one million bills. 4. Bribes. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he refused what appeared to be an envelope of cash from former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, but took 17 years to disclose that to police.


Rob Ford stole the show on a frenzied news night

  1. Wait till they found out that Nigel Wright bought it for him . . . .

    • at the end, irresponsible stories will bring more harm to star than to ford

      • Yeah, but only if the story proves false. ford and all his supporters will lose complete credibility for siding with a crackhead. Either way, I’m going to laugh my ass off at who ever this blows up on :)

        • This comment was deleted.

          • Not funny and more than a bit racist.

          • Fat jokes are OK, though?

          • 1) I didn’t make any fat jokes
            2) Have been the butt of some fat jokes myself

            Fat jokes aren’t nice, and yes are potentially discriminatory, but on a scale of nastiness I wouldn’t rank them as nasty as a racist joke.

            Ford jokes are in a completely different class; the man invites ridicule with his behaviour. One can spend an entire evening telling Ford jokes without ever referencing his weight – though it does make a tempting target for many.

          • How is it racist to suggest that being seen in the company of black people might secure the black vote?

            Do you think it’s racist for politicians to speak to ethnic community groups in order to better understand them and secure their vote? Because it seems to me that’s not racism, that’s simply democracy.

            But your understanding of democracy is idiotic, so I don’t expect you to understand.

          • The way it sounds when I read it – and it would seem Justin Flontek reads it much the same way – is that you are saying black people are sure to vote for a crack-smoking mayor because that’s what black people are into.
            Your current statement smacks of back-pedalling. As to my understanding of democracy as being idiotic, well, given the source…

          • Oh ok. So I say “black people”, and you assumed that when I say “black people” that it’s some code for “crack head”?

            And you’re accusing ME of being racist? I’m not the one who thinks that all black people are crack heads, that would be you.

            Why do you think all black people smoke crack?

          • I don’t. Your statement implied YOU do. You replied to Flontek’s statement, which was about Ford possibly being a crackhead, and losing support as a result, by saying “Or Rob Ford just secured the black vote.”
            In context, that – to me – sounds like a racist slur implying black people would vote for him because he hangs with drug dealers.
            But what do I know? I’m just a middle-aged white dude from NL. So tell you what – I’ll flip your comment over to my (black) girlfriend and get back to you on her take – assuming she doesn’t reply to you directly when she reads this chain.

          • As promised in my first response, I sent the article to my black GF. Here, verbatim, is her response to your comment after reading it and the article:

            Read the article. Subject of the article is Rob Ford accused of being in the company of drug dealers and smoking crack. There is no political agenda, no political platform that highlights the needs of any specific community (i.e. sexual orientation, ethnic, gender etc.). If true, this is solely a self-serving, illegal, morally reprehensible act by any law abiding community.

            When the term “securing the black vote” is used when political figures campaign across the country, they are addressing the needs and giving a voice to that specific community as they may feel that they are not being heard by their figure heads. While I as a black woman find such a comment somewhat irritating, it does have some merit because black people, statistically, do not come out to vote thus having their opinion heard.

            That being said, Rick Owen is an ass! He is implying that Rob Ford being seen in the company of black drug dealers will somehow win the “black vote”? Or is he saying that black people (I am assuming this means Canadians, West Indians, Africans, Black Italians, Black Germans, anything non-white in colour but not ethnicity or both. The jury is still out on that as I find it of little importance to understand the irrational mind of a racist but I digress) are so simple that void of a political platform we are so easily swayed to vote heading to the voting booths (of course Rick probably see us foot shuffling, shucking or doing the moon dance) casting our vote on the whoever took a photo with a black drug dealer or has “connections” to the drug scene (you know that area exclusively own by black folks)!

            We have become so socially constructed to accept comments like “the black vote, the gay vote etc.” that we try the neutralize prejudice. We hope that political figures speak to the minds of EVERY group and not assume that they will secure shit!

            True, that’s only the opinion of ONE black woman. Feel free to counter with an opinion solicited from one of your black friends.

          • Don’t you have a cross burning to get to?

          • That sounds awfully racist to me. Black people can’t vote for a Conservative without becoming self-hating racists? Take your bigotry elsewhere, loser. I don’t have time for such intolerance.

          • Nice try, but you are going to have to hit a much higher RPM for us not to see through your spin…

      • Possibly. But until then, stories like this will do quite the opposite.

  2. Tough morning to be a conservative. The good news is that that lightweight Justine Turdeau has been pushed off the front pages by Ford, Harper and Duffy.

    • Jesus. Tell me about it.

      If this turns out to be true, Ford has singlehandedly set back the cause of good conservatives by years, and singlehandedly vindicated the Star in their witch hunt against him and repaired their reputation. He’s got an “announcement” to make at 3:15 today. Again, if true, I can’t imagine how he could have f**ked up worse.

      • so THIS is what it would take to make a Conservative finally dislike Ford? The other stuff was all just ‘who cares?”

        Your people are crazy.

        • What would it take to make you denounce a Liberal?

          Adscam, Gas plants, Mac Harb, etc. don’t seem to be enough.

          • I have noted when Liberals have done wrong and have expressed hope the proper remedy was meted out.

          • I have acknowledged the members of the Liberal party who engaged in adscam undoubtedly did wrong, but also noted they investigated themselves and wished other governments might “pull a Gomery.”

            If it turns out the Liberals were hiding information about the price of closing both gas plants I will be upset indeed. For the moment I am more concerned that all three parties saw no problem with throwing away $240 million (the original price for BOTH plants. The opposition keeps leaving out the second, more expensive closure they all agreed on to try to make the numbers higher).

          • Adscam was enough for me. But that’s still not going to stop me from laying into the cons. they’re as bad, if not worst than the libs.

          • Seems to me liberals abandoned their party in droves after Adscam…

      • I can think of only a few things, like murder and rape, the others, I don’t think I’d be allowed to post here. Even if he’s been stealing money, having a crackhead in office seems worse.

        • You are all being very hard on Ford, perhaps he is just a thug that needs a hug.

          Of course, that act would require long arms.

          • LOL

            ford jokes will never get old.

    • Yes, the judgment of easily led con morons is being highlighted in all it’s morbidly obese, coked up glory this morning.

    • You’ve got quite the man crush on Justin, don’t you?

  3. Come on, someone buy the video and post it already! I’ll email the link to everyone I know!

  4. At first, I though “Six figures for a crappy I-phone video? Are they crazy?”. Now that the story has gone international, I wonder what someone with deep pockets would pay. Is it too late to repair the damage to Ford’s already iffy reputation? Could a rich Conservative supporter pull a Wright and buy this video, now that it’s contents have been disclosed? They’ve already shown a tendancy to close the barn doors after all the horses have escaped, after all.

    • Let’s crowd source for the vid!

  5. comon people, Rob Ford is just smokin’ crack to lose weight.
    You see, there’s a simple explanation for everything. I’d run with that one.

  6. I am wondering if an experienced journalist might be able to weigh in on the Gawker writer’s assertion that CNN contacting Mr. Ford for verification was a “huge mistake” and not common practice.

    • Gawker made the “huge mistake” of emailing an actual reporter to ask for advice. In my years as a newsie, I never got a call from a competitor saying ‘what do you think i should do with this story?”. That’s kind of halarious, actually.
      It’s both “common practice” and responsible journalism to contact the party you’re writing about to offer them the chance to put in their opinion/defence. That’s what CNN was doing.

      • Thank you for your response, MostlyCivil.

  7. This isn’t entertaining any more. Sadly, I called it: he needs a psychologist. If the allegations are true, he’ll need all the help he can get in a good treatment center. If they aren’t, he’ll still need help.

    • If they *aren’t* true, the Toronto Star needs to be shut down and never publish again.

      However, I have to say that I’m not particularly encouraged by the defenses being offered by the Mayor’s office.

      • If they *aren’t* true, the Toronto Star needs to be shut down and never publish again.


        I am sure you meant to type “They should be sure to print an article outlining the new story and be careful to note where it differs from their initial, actually very cautious coverage.”

        The CPC guys are really going crazy the past few days, what with John G and the guy who kept coming up with ever more outlandish explanations for how Mike Duffy could have done no wrong.

        • No. I mean they should be shut down and never allowed to publish a newspaper again, and both the paper and its publishers should face financial oblivion.

          Again, if this is not true (again, this is something which I frankly doubt very much at this point), the damage they’d have caused to Ford’s reputation is incalculable. Given the nature of what they reported, if they did this maliciously with no or fabricated evidence, going only on a video they claim to have seen but will not purchase, they should absolutely be sued into oblivion and never publish a paper again. But it seems more and more unlikely that it will come to that. More likely is that they’ve been vindicated in their coverage. So yeah, not a happy day in Muppet-land today.

          • Then you are even less well-adjusted than it at first appeared – which is saying something.

          • Why? Because I don’t believe a newspaper should be allowed to use malicious lies to personally destroy a politician they don’t like?

            If you’re OK with that, I’d suggest you look in the mirror before accusing people of not being well adjusted.

          • They acted within reason. if more comes to light they would have a professional obligation to make it known. One might even say they could be forced to eat some crow, but I would not share such an opinion.

            I also admit that your ‘be shut down” carried fascist overtones to me, I did not realize you meant only that they should become so poor through a legal judgment they would have to close shop (which is still unreasonable, BTW).

          • I haven’t read the Star’s article, but the above story makes it clear the news was already out – and that’s why they published now. They had been investigating since May 3 and hadn’t gone public with it until Gawker scooped them; seems like a pretty responsible journalistic approach to me. If it were someone on the left and the Sun got hold of it I really don’t think they would have held out and kept digging.

          • Just read it. I stand by my previous statement – it is reasonably balanced, and it sounds like they would not have published what they had were the story not already out. I wouldn’t call that an attack; I’d call that typical journalism.

          • Doesn’t matter, Repeating a defamation is also defamation.

          • Then there isn’t a media outlet in the country – nay, the world – that stands a chance in your court.

          • So you must have agreed with the Venezuelan government shutting down newspapers that wrote defamatory commentary about Hugo Chavez?

          • Ironically, the decision to print the story was likely a business decision. Doolittle and Donovan had been holding on this for some time (having received the same ‘pay-or-play’ offer and seen the video three ttimes)). Gawker broke it. The Star realized it was happening (there was a crapstorm on twitter – it was wild to watch) and responded with what they knew. They were scooped.

            None of which mitigates against the serious legal cannons that will have the Star square in sights if this is indeed false. But yes, a business decision.

        • If you mean Healthcare Insider, he’s a she :-)

      • Of course they aren’t true. Why on earth would you believe any of it?: We already know the Star is akin to Pravda.
        Or are you being facetious?

        • When the mayor’s defense team says things like “I think unless one has experience in crack cocaine smoking it is very
          difficult to gauge what a person is actually doing in an alleged video.”…well, that just doesn’t inspire one with confidence.

          And despite the Star’s obvious vendetta against Ford, I just can’t believe they run this if the video doesn’t exist. They are already bleeding red ink. The libel risk alone might be enough to shut them down.

          • I know, they’re not denying the video, or that he was smoking, but that it wasn’t crack. Then what was he smoking?

      • If there was a video of me floating around that shows me smoking crack, and I knew for a fact that I’ve been nowhere near a crack pipe, I’d be having that tape seized, analyzed and exposed ASAP. I’d be screaming it from the effing rooftops.

        That course of action may yet come from the Ford camp — and I hope for Ford’s sake, if it’s a load of crap, they do — but they seem to be taking their sweet time about it.

  8. Rob Ford, Rob Ford,
    Is an adorable dork,
    Hates silly street cars,
    And City Hall pork,
    He likes to get drunk,
    And act like a putz,
    Now he’s smoking crack,
    We think that he’s nuts.

  9. Ladies and gentlemen, your Conservatives!

    • Thieves, torturers, rapists, pedophiles, murderers and now crackheads. harpo sure does have some rogue gallery of friends. I think someone needs to call Batman.

  10. So I guess his title is now, Senator Independent, the Dishonorable Mike Duffy.

    Wonder how the Liberal senator is doing with offshore account tax evasion?

  11. In a world that A. Coyne laments as lacking “principle” It seems
    that Elijah Harper has died.

  12. Ford was done for marijuana possession. Denied it.

    Done for drunk driving. Denied it.

    Verbally attacked a couple in public. Denied it.

    The oaf is a worthless freak with substance abuse issues who lies through his teeth.

    The entertainment value as this tub of shit goes down for the final count is going to be unbelievable.

    • Sounds like he’s a really successful denier, though. Because he’s still the mayor of the nation’s biggest city.

      • Still makes him a liar. Just means there’s a lot of stupid people, who are still willing to vote for the bum.

  13. To be fair, didn’t the Toronto Star endorse Smitherman, who had a cocaine addiction? So is their official line: “don’t smoke crack, it’s a ghetto drug.”

    • Smitherman did coke too?

      And didn’t the other one who recently accused the Mayor of groping her also have a history of coke? As I recall, she said she couldn’t remember if she’d done cocaine before.

      Was there anyone running for Toronto mayor in 2010 who wasn’t a crackhead?

  14. Maclean’s debases itself by publishing garbage like this Rob Ford stuff.

    I guess Maclean’s wants to compete with the National Enquirer and TMZ.

    The next article will be about how Ford is a space alien from the planet Zorg and eats babies for breakfast.

    • It’s not newsworthy that the chief legislator of the nations largest city is seen doing a viciously addictive drug?

      • Even if it’s not true, an investigation is needed. These are some pretty serious allegations, with potentially damning evidence. If the video is fake, or just a lie, the culprit(s) responsible needs to be punished.

  15. It’s truly amazing how many unsubstantiated and unproveable claims the Toronto Star throws at Rob Ford. The fact that our national “political media” is now chasing rumors from Gawker.com says more about the industry than it does about anything else.

    Am I really supposed to believe that professional drug dealers are keeping video evidence or their crimes and calling up the media to show it to them? Not a good way to stay out of jail. But I guess I’m not as smart as a professional criminal or a Toronto Star reporter.

    • Clearly, they thought there was money to be made. As the Star story says, their stated intent was to grab some cash and get out of town. Likely not any more risky for jail time than selling drugs in the first place. You’ll also note that the dealers don’t appear in the video, so no liability for them.

      As to “unsubstantiated and unproveable”, you’ll recall that time when the Star asked Mr. Ford about being drunk and abusive at a hockey game. When asked, Mr. Ford denied even being at the game. The next day, being pressed further by the Sun, Mr. Ford admitted he had lied. But since the Star had no eyewitnesses, the Star story was (according to you) “unverified and unproveable”. But it wasn’t. it was true.

      • ford denied his DUI in Florida, too.

      • It’s possible that the crack dealer took the video and sent it to a friend and now that friend is trying to cash in. It’s not a crime to possess a video of a mayor smoking crack. Unless you live in a fascist country.

  16. A few years ago, a similar situation emerged when Joe Biden’s daughter was caught on tape doing lines of cocaine.

    Same story…someone was shopping a tape to the media trying to get rich.

    That story went absolutely nowhere. No respectable mainstream media outlet dared to touch it.

    Just goes to show you how much lower the standard is when a conservative is the potential target.

    • or when it’s an actual serving public official as opposed to their child, perhaps?

      And you have to go to the Onion to get the skinny on how suspicious Sasha Obama is of her father’s handling of the Benghazi affair :) It’s on outrage!

      You don’t do yourself any favours with your “media is biased” theme with these kind of false equivalences.

      • You want to try and make the case that the children of a VP/VP candidate are off limits?

        Good luck with that one professor.

        • Not off limits, clearly. But not nearly as newsworthy, as is evidenced by current coverage.

  17. So, the Toronto Star is pretty exposed if all of a sudden that alleged video “disappears” and the video makers claim it never existed, aren’t they?

    You know, if Nigel Wright has $90K to toss at Mike Duffy, who’s to say he doesn’t have $100K or $200K to quietly, off the record, from an account that can’t be traced to him, give these guys to destroy the video and say it was all a hoax & never existed in the first place?

    This is the position the Star has put itself in by relying on a piece of video evidence held by Somalian drug dealers

    • Gawker has set up an Indiegogo account to raise money to buy the video. I’m guessing they’ll get it, too.

      Since they’ve already made contact with the sellers, their actual attempt to buy the tape rather outweighs your purely hypothetical scenario, no?

      • Very likely.

        I’m just saying…it’s irresponsible for a paper to put itself in the position of having to rely on the integrity of Somalian drug dealers. I know if I were a shareholder I would not be impressed with the amount of risk being undertaken.

        • Well, a couple of things. They were dealing through an intermediary to talk to the dealers. One assumes they did some checking of the gent in question, as one must have a level of trust to follow someone into a strange car while leaving bags and phones behind.

          In investigative reporting, you always risk getting it wrong. Always. Every source has an angle, and in this case, the angle was so clear and unmasked (money) it likely left little room for doubt. I turned down stories from sources because i couldn’t figure out why they were talking to me. The motive here was simple, which gives credibility.

          And believe me when i tell you this has been through at least 10 different lawyers in the last 2 weeks. I’ve seen Ottawa stories with much weaker “anonymous” sources listed that nobody seems to challenge.

          • You know what? All of that is fine. Don’t get me wrong…at this point I find it extremely difficult to believe that the video is not real.

            But the point is…if it’s for sale to the highest bidder, the highest bidder might be someone we don’t know about who wants to bury it, not publish it. And if they attach a rider to that payment that allows them to do so in a way that leads a court to question if the video ever existed, the Star, given their long vendetta against Ford, is f**ked.

            The Star is risking their reputation on Somalian drug dealers not doing this if a higher bidder comes along. Maybe they think that’s a calculated risk they are willing to take. Fine. But it’s one I’d certainly find scary to take.

  18. I have a video of Justin Trudeau having sex with a racoon, but the neither the Toronto Star nor the CBC is interested in writing any kind of a story about it.
    And I’m not just some drug dealer off the street with an iPhone. I’m a professional videographer with Adobe certifications in both After Effects and Premiere Pro.

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