TORONTO – The man who has staunchly defended the mayor of Canada’s largest city through a storm of crack cocaine use allegations spent Saturday angrily lashing out at a claim that he himself once sold hashish for several years in Toronto.
An incensed Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s older brother, vehemently denied the allegations contained in a national newspaper article as he took the media to task for what he suggested were relentless attacks on his family.
In a five-page story published Saturday, the Globe and Mail alleged Ford was once a hashish dealer in the ’80s — but both Ford and his lawyer called the accusations false.
‘They aren’t true,” Ford told The Canadian Press. “Do you know who can be the judge and jury of this? The people.”
When asked if he had ever sold hashish, a visibly angry Ford said “no, I haven’t, ever.”
The Globe article came just a day after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford broke a week-long silence over a reported video that showed him smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. He said he does not use crack cocaine nor is he an addict of the drug.
Doug Ford, who has publicly appeared as a pillar of support to his brother, found himself at the centre of attention on Saturday after the Globe quoted sources described as drug dealers and users as saying the mayor’s right-hand-man allegedly dealt drugs in west-end Toronto long before he sought office.
The newspaper — which said it discovered the information over the past 18 months while researching a larger piece on the Ford family — noted it could find no record of any criminal charge for illegal drug possession or trafficking against Ford.
When explaining to readers how its story was in the public interest, the Globe noted that the Ford brothers hold sway over much of the city’s business and have campaigned on anti-drug platforms.
“The rest of city council, and citizens at large, deserve to understand the moral record of their leaders. In most matters, public or private, character matters,” Globe Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse wrote in a column accompanying Saturday’s article.
When asked if he was going to sue the Globe, Ford said he hadn’t decided yet.
“We’re going to keep that option on the table there,” he said. “I’m dealing with the lawyers right now.”
Ford did lash out personally at Stackhouse, however, in an interview with a local Toronto television station.
“John Stackhouse, you’re a disgusting human being in my opinion,” he said in an interview on CP24, looking directly at the camera. “If you have a family, if you have kids, how would you like me to do some investigative reporting on you.”
For his part, Stackhouse shrugged off Ford’s personal barbs.
“He can attack us all he wants, that’s not the point and probably not the question most Torontonians want answered right now,” he said in an interview, adding the Globe had tried repeatedly to get Ford to comment on its story before it was published.
“The (Ford) family understandably is frustrated but they’ve been refusing for some time to speak openly and transparently to the public about some serious issues.”
In the interview with CP24, Doug Ford talked about his years of community service as a rotary member and said he and his family have worked hard for Toronto.
“All we’ve done is give back service above self,” he said.
“I’m one of the few politicians in this country who gives back his salary to the community and more.”
The Ford brothers were planning to do their weekly radio show on Sunday on Toronto radio show NewsTalk 1010, but it was unclear whether they would address the media firestorm that has ungulfed them for more than a week.
An open dialogue from both Ford brothers on the drug-related allegations plaguing them is what Toronto and all those watching the city need, argued at least one city councillor.
“It would be good for everyone, Toronto and themselves, if they just were honest, because everyone wants to get past this,” said Coun. Josh Matlow. “But the longer this continues, the harder it is for everyone involved.”
Matlow added he wasn’t surprised at the claims contained in the Globe’s story, saying the allegation that Doug Ford was once a drug dealer “has been one of the best known secrets around City Hall for a long time.”
The Globe said it based its information on interviews with 10 people it said grew up with Doug Ford — those sources included two former hashish suppliers, three street-level drug dealers and a number of casual users of hash. It said the sources would only speak on condition of anonymity.
The paper said the sources claimed Ford was a “go-to dealer” of hashish for several years.
The Globe also said it tried to contact retired police officers who investigated drugs in the area at the time — one said he had no memory of encountering the Fords, while several did not respond.
Gavin Tighe, Doug Ford’s lawyer, also denied the allegations contained in the newspaper’s story.
“Your references to unnamed alleged sources of information represent the height of irresponsible and unprofessional journalism given the gravely serious and specious allegations of substantial criminal conduct,” Tighe told the Globe.
Meanwhile, the addition of the Globe’s latest allegations to the existing crack cocaine claims swirling around Rob Ford is likely to sharpen the international spotlight that has been thrown onto the city’s top political family.
The story of the alleged cocaine video and the mayor’s response has already become an Internet sensation and fodder for comedians on late night talk shows.
The allegations against the mayor stem from articles by two reporters with the Toronto Star and the editor of the U.S. online gossip website Gawker, who said they viewed a cellphone video of the mayor apparently taken by someone they described as a drug dealer, who was trying to sell the clip.
The video appeared to show Ford smoking what looked like crack cocaine, the publications said.
The video has not surfaced despite an effort by Gawker to raise $200,000 dollars to purchase it. As of Saturday night Gawker had raised $173,099. The Star has reported it cannot verify the authenticity of the video, but has said it stands by its reporting.
The mayor has said the entire incident had taken “a great toll” on his family, friends and the people of Toronto.