Mayor Rob Ford refused to address allegations Friday morning that he was caught on video smoking crack cocaine.
Arriving at his City Hall office shortly after 11 a.m., Ford pushed his way through a throng of waiting reporters and walked the short distance from the second floor elevator to his door, flanked by his staff and security guards.
He was heard to say "ridiculous" as he made his way through the crowd, but would not answer reporters' shouted questions about the drug allegations.
The accusations were first made in a story posted Thursday night by the editor of the U.S. website Gawker, who reported being shown the video by a man attempting to sell the footage for a six-figure sum. Shortly after the Gawker story broke, the Toronto Star corroborated the report, saying that two of its reporters were shown the video two weeks ago.
The story has since been picked up by news outlets around the world, including the BBC and Fox News.
NOW Magazine cannot verify the allegations.
Before Ford arrived at City Hall, councillors trickling in to work said they hoped he would respond directly to the latest allegations to hit his controversy-plagued mayoralty.
"My advice is that he has to deal with it," said Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby, who represents the ward where the video was allegedly shot. "Don't run away from it. Either admit it or don't admit it, but do something with it because it's pretty shocking."
Lindsay Luby said she couldn't determine whether Ford was a drug user solely on the basis of news reports. But when asked if he was fit to govern, she replied "I guess when he's lucid he's good."
Pushed for clarification, the councillor said that the mayor appeared to be in good form on Thursday when he visited the new panda exhibit at the Toronto Zoo and later made a speech at City Hall about a the collapse of the city's casino plans.
"There are things he can do very very well, and others [...] not so well," she said.
Councillor John Parker also urged Ford to deal with the scandal.
"I would think the mayor would be wise to address this story head on and put it to rest," said Parker. "We all hope that the inferences that are floating around are untrue and the only one who can set us straight on that is the mayor."
At around 9:30 a.m. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday spoke with reporters and declared that Ford still has his full support. He said reports of the video, which was allegedly shot by a man who supplied the mayor with drugs, could not be taken at face value.
"Certainly we all know that videos can be altered and we certainly know that drug dealers can't be trusted," Holyday said.
"I have not seen any indication of him using any substances like this or anything else for that matter."
But while Holyday backed Ford, he said that the mayor would have to face the media, and "the sooner the better."
"I guess the mayor's going to have to address you people. I don't know when it will be but I'm sure he will," he said.
Meanwhile Councillor Adam Vaughan, a vocal critic of Ford's who often describes him as a "part-time mayor," refused to wade into controversy. He said he preferred to talk about making sure that plans to build a downtown casino are killed off at council next week.
"We have been working around Rob Ford since the day he was elected," Vaughan said.
"He's but one vote on city council and 44 of us have work to do."