Mayor Rob Ford has made a brief statement to reporters in response to reports that a cell phone video of him smoking crack cocaine and using a homophobic slur is being offered to news outlets.
Speaking outside his office Friday before a crush of journalists and cameramen, Ford dismissed the allegations, and suggested that the story was part of a vendetta being waged against him by the Toronto Star.
"These allegations are ridiculous. It's another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me," he said.
"That's all I've got to say for now."
The Toronto Star claimed an exclusive on the story but American website Gawker actually published its version first on Thursday night. According to journalists from both outlets, the video allegedly shows Ford inhaling what appears to be crack cocaine, calling Liberal leader Justin Trudeau a "fag," and describing members of the high school football team he coaches as "fucking minorities."
After his short remarks, Ford headed towards a nearby elevator and ascended to the City Hall rooftop for a flag ceremony marking the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). As he left, reporters shouted questions about the video at him but he refused to answer.
Once on the roof, Ford read a proclamation marking the anti-homophobia day in a halting monotone. After, he stood listening to speeches behind a row of other participants and appeared distracted, often looking down into the square below or up at the roof of City Hall.
When the ceremony was over the mayor made his way back inside, trailed by a pack of reporters. They shouted more questions, but again he gave no answer. His staff said he would be making no further comment today.
Like last year's flag-raising, Ford did not confirm his attendance at the event until the last minute. As of Friday morning, organizing group PFLAG was still unsure whether he would be on hand, according to a spokesperson.
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, a vocal advocate for the queer community, was also at the cermony. She said she had mixed feelings about the mayor's presence in light of the allegations of drug use and homophobia, which she believes are credible.
Before the event she sent out a tweet that said, "No one to be called 'fag' at PFLAG's #IDAHO event," a reference to Ford's alleged remark about Trudeau.
"Let's just say it's not enough to come once a year and pay us lip service, and then in between those times make homophobic and other such derogatory remarks," she said in an interview.
Asked if she believes Ford should resign if the story is verified, Wong-Tam didn't hesitate.
"Absolutely," she said. "If the allegations are true, then he is not fit for office."
On Friday, Gawker announced that it was collecting donations to buy and publish the video. The site reported the asking price as $200,000.