Doug Holyday speaks to reporters outside the mayor's office, May 24, 2013. Photo by Ben Spurr.
Members of Rob Ford's executive committee plan to release an open letter this afternoon calling on the mayor to address allegations he used crack cocaine.
Ford has been virtually silent on the accusations since last Thursday, when Gawker and the Toronto Star reported the existence of a video allegedly showing him smoking crack.
At a 10 am press conference outside the mayor's office, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday confirmed that he will sign the letter. He said it doesn't matter whether the video, which so far has only been viewed by reporters, is made public.
"I would like the mayor to speak up regardless. I've said that right from the outset," said Holyday, a longtime friend of the Ford family. "The only story out there comes from the Toronto Star, and if the mayor has another version that he should be out there putting that forward so that people can make a decision."
Four or five other members of the 12-member executive have also committed to signing the letter, but not every councillor on the committee had seen it as of 10 am. Aside from calling on the Ford to address the ballooning crisis in his administration, the open letter will also seek to reassure residents that city business will carry on as usual, despite the turmoil at City Hall.
"The water still comes out of your tap, the fire department is still working, you can still get books from the library. I mean, every city service that I know of is still working the way it's supposed to, and it doesn't depend on one person," Holyday said.
Holyday has not spoken to Ford since Tuesday's council meeting. Despite reports that the mayor fired his chief of staff on Wednesday because he advised Ford to go to rehab, Holyday says he does not know if the mayor has a drug problem.
Councillor Gary Crawford, one of the executive members who is working on the letter, says he doesn't feel comfortable with the mayor representing the city at official functions with the scandal hanging over his head.
"I'm not necessarily comfortable with that. We need to get to the bottom of this from the city's perspective, and it's a concern for all of us," he said.
It's far from certain that the letter will have any impact on the notoriously stubborn mayor, however. Councillors, civic leaders, and every major newspaper in the city have already called on Ford to address the drug allegations, to no avail.
Crawford and Holyday concede that no one has any power over the mayor, and that he has every right to continue on in his role at the head of city government. He's scheduled to chair a meeting of the executive next Tuesday.
But Crawford said the executive is using the means it has at its disposal to try to bring an end to the chaos that threatens to overshadow the day-to-day business of government.
"We are all doing what we can to try to resolve the issue," he said.
"We're trying to get beyond and figure out what has happened and how we move forward. Because I think the issue is how we move forward from here."
Ford is expected at City Hall Friday for a 1 pm briefing ahead of Tuesday's meeting.
UPDATE: Ford arrived at his office after 1:15 pm. He entered a side door and avoided the media.
UPDATE: At around 3:10 pm, the open letter was released. It's signed by six members of the executive, including loyal Ford ally Cesar Palacio.