Halloween Day was a shop of horrors around Toronto City Hall.
Just before noon, Police chief Bill Blair announced that through Project Traveller, police were in possession of a video that corroborates reporting from Gawker and the Toronto Star that revealed Ford’s status as Toronto’s first alleged crack-smoking mayor.
Back in May, Gawker editor John Cook and Star reporters Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan described how they had been shown a cell-phone video that depicted Ford smoking crack and talking trash about Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
Blair announced that police have the alleged “crack tape,” the existence of which Ford explicitly denied.
In the words of the police chief:
“On October 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 June 13, they were able to identify a number of files that had been deleted and that they were able to recover those files. 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 on Windsor Road in Etobicoke.”
I watched Blair’s news conference from city hall with a crush of reporters who hunched over a livestream on a glowing iPad, oohing and aahing over the revelations. Vindication at last for the “maggots.”
Elsewhere at city hall, school children waited patiently behind blue velvet rope for a tour of Rob Ford’s office — on this day a makeshift haunted-house. “Is it scary?” a little boy asked a security guard.
No one was expecting the mayor to show. After all, he was last seen chasing reporters off his rain-soaked Etobicoke driveway. Way back in May, it took him more than a week to address allegations, so why would he appear now?
Never underestimate Rob Ford.
A few hours later, after I had digested every Cadbury Scream Egg in the receptionist’s candy bowl, there was a rush for the velvet rope. A minute went by, then two. Finally Ford emerged, dejected and sullen, his eyes red and tired.
Standing between two grim-reaper decorations pinned to his office doors, he spoke:
“I’m sure everybody has seen the allegations against me today. I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately I can’t because it’s before the courts.”
(I’m pretty sure “before the courts” must be Ford-ese for “true.”) Ford made clear he will not resign, he has no reason to resign, and—enter awkward stump speech—he will continue “making phone calls” and helping out the taxpayer.
The mayor’s pledge to continue dotting I’s and T’s may be absurd, but it’s all he has left.
The did-he-or-didn’t-he mystery has been solved. Unless the left-wing media conspiracy has reached into the police department, crack-gate deniers don’t have much to go on anymore.
Ford wants us to know his demons are personal and that the public purse is safe. What matters now, what matters most, are low taxes and returned calls. It’s herculean obfuscation that works to a certain degree. There was an expectation among some liberals, myself included, that when the video surfaced, Ford loyalists would denounce the mayor. Now, having toured his haunted house, I doubt it more than ever.
Somewhere in the haunted house I met Antonella, an older Toronto resident who had not heard about Project Traveler or the developments around the notorious tape. After filling her in, I asked if the lies made her angry, if the mayor should resign.“Yeah, I guess,” she said, “… if he’s guilty.”
Antonella did allow that she is mad about one thing — “those senators … ”
Behold Rob Ford, the only staunch conservative to benefit from the Senate scandal. Take-home lesson those school kids? The public purse is mightier than the pipe.