Toronto police have obtained a video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking a crack pipe, a video Ford had said did not exist and that has been at the core of a scandal that has embarrassed and gripped Canada for months.
Police Chief Bill Blair said on Thursday that the video, recovered after being deleted from a computer hard drive, did not provide grounds to press charges.
Speaking outside the door to his office, Ford, a populist mayor who has repeatedly made headlines for his odd behaviour, said he has “no reason to resign”.
Toronto police discovered the video while conducting a huge surveillance operation into a friend and sometimes driver suspected of providing Ford with drugs.
As a citizen of Toronto I'm disappointed. This is a traumatic issue for citizens of this city and the reputation of this city.
Ford faced allegations in May that he had been caught on video puffing from a glass crack pipe. Two reporters with the Toronto Star newspaper said that they had seen the video, but it has not been released publicly.
Ford maintained he does not smoke the drug and that the video does not exist.
He was elected mayor three years ago on a wave of discontent simmering in the city’s outlying suburbs. Since then he has survived an attempt to remove him from office on conflict-of-interest charges and has appeared in the news for various scandals.
Previous controversies include being asked to leave an event for wounded war vets because he appeared intoxicated, according to the Toronto Star, and making rude gestures at Torontonians from his car.
He was forced to admit he was busted for marijuana possession in Florida in 1999, after repeated denials.
Through it all, the mayor has repeatedly refused to resign and pledged to run for re-election next year.
But the pressure ramped up on Thursday with all four major dailies in the city calling on Ford to resign.
Cheri DiNovo, a member of Ontario’s parliament, tweeted, “Ford video nothing to celebrate Addiction is illness. Mayor please step down and get help”.
On Thursday, Blair said the video of the mayor “depicts images that are consistent with those previously reported in the press”.
“As a citizen of Toronto I’m disappointed,” Blair said. “This is a traumatic issue for citizens of this city and the reputation of this city.”
Blair said the video will come out when Ford’s associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug charges.
Lisi now also faces extortion charges for trying to retrieve the recording from an unidentified person.
Blair did not say who owned the computer containing the video.
Blair said authorities believed the video is linked to a home in Toronto, referred to by a confidential informant as a “crack house” in court documents in Lisi’s drug case.
The prosecutor in the Lisi case released documents on Thursday showing they had rummaged through Ford’s garbage in search of evidence of drug use.
They show that they conducted a massive surveillance operation monitoring the mayor and Lisi following drug use allegations.
Toronto Councillor Joe Mihevc said he continues to be shocked by the “depth and revelations that are coming out”.
“The mayor has to come clean and do it as soon as possible,” Mihevc said. “He needs to talk honestly about his use of illicit drugs.”