A screen capture of the Gawker homepage.
New York media and news blog Gawker is reporting that a video exists showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Earlier this evening, Gawker editor John Cook posted a story stating that he received a tip from someone alleging to possess a video of the mayor smoking the illicit drug and recently flew to Toronto to view it. Cook's post details the circuitous route he took to get in contact with the person in possession of the video, eventually viewing it on a touchscreen phone. According to Cook, the video runs as follows:
Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off-camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford. "Pierre Trudeau was a faggot!" is the one phrase the lodges in my mind. Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales.
The person who showed Cook the video allegedly confirmed that the substance the mayor smoked on camera was crack, a freebase form of cocaine known for the intense, albeit relatively brief, euphoria it creates in the user. Cook himself anecdotally verifies the claim earlier in his post, claiming that the mayor "was fucking hiiiiigh."
Cook also alleges that the seller was willing to fork the video over for "six figures," more than Gawker was willing to spend.
After the post was published, it was updated with a notice that Gawker had received an e-mail from someone identifying themselves as Dennis Morris, Ford's lawyer. (Morris defended Ford previously, in 2008, when the then-City Councillor was charged with assault and issuing threats against his wife, Renata.) The letter from Morris states that Ford denies the accusation of smoking crack cocaine, and called Gawker's post "false and defamatory."
Star City Hall reporter Robyn Doolittle issued a tweet about an hour ago stating that she and Star investigative reporter Kevin Donovan have seen the video in question, though made no statement as to the veracity of its content:
Myself and Kevin Donovan have viewed the video of Mayor Rob Ford that is the subject of the Gawker piece. Read the Toronto Star tomorrow
- robyndoolittle (@robyndoolittle) May 17, 2013
Later, The Star published a story, written by Doolittle and Donovan, stating the video is currently "being shopped around Toronto by a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade." The piece claims that "The Star had no way to verify the video," but seems to confirm Gawker's allegations as well as the six-figure price tag.
The piece claims that Doolittle and Donovan saw the video after several meetings with a Somali man over the past month, " culminating with the May 3 meeting at the Dixon Rd. apartment complex" at which point they viewed the video three times.
Notably, The Star's account of the video's content differs from Gawker's in that they allege that Ford calls Justin Trudeau, and not his father, Pierre Trudeau, "a fag."
Calls placed to Rob Ford's cell phone by reporters at NOW were not picked up. His voicemail inbox was full, and unable to receive new messages.
In Canada, crack cocaine is classified as a Schedule I substance. Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act Section 4 (1) such substances carry a maximum seven year prison sentence for an indictable offence such as possession.
Justin Trudeau married Sophie Grégoire in 2005. They have two children.