New video surfaces of Rob Ford; Toronto mayor takes leave of absence

Ford's lawyer says the mayor will be taking a break from his re-election campaign, while a new crack cocaine video reportedly surfaces.

A screenshot of a video sent to American gossip site Gawker and to the Globe and Mail

A screenshot of a video sent to American gossip site Gawker and to the Globe and Mail

A new video of Rob Ford – seen by American gossip site Gawker and Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail – has surfaced, reportedly showing the Toronto mayor “taking a drag from a long copper-coloured pipe, exhaling a cloud of smoke, his right arm convulsing” (via The Globe).

Both sites said their source claimed the drug in the pipe was crack cocaine. (The screenshot above was provided by Gawker.) The source also claims the video was shot on Saturday, about 1:15 a.m. in Toronto.

On Wednesday – after the Globe said its reporter(s) tried to contact Ford for a comment on the new video – Ford’s lawyer said the mayor was taking a leave of absence from re-election campaign, and that Ford will seek help for substance abuse (Surrey Leader).

“In my eyes, he should announce those steps to the public in the near future,” said Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, adding that Ford “realizes he needs help for substance abuse.”

Last year, after months of rumours and speculation, Ford publicly admitted to smoking crack cocaine in one of his “drunken stupors”, and he vowed to give up alcohol. He was then filmed in other incidents, reportedly after admitting to using crack cocaine, where he was drunk and often ranting.

Also on Wednesday, the Toronto Sun newspaper posted audio of Ford, ranting and recorded on Monday night in the city’s neighbourhood of Etobicoke, in a bar called Sullie Gorman’s.

“He was really wasted,” a witness told the Sun‘s Joe Warmington. “And he was acting like a real ass.”

The audio allegedly has Ford ranting about his wife and about mayoral contender Karen Stinz.

*NOTE: Robyn Doolittle, who was the then-Toronto Sun reporter most famously linked to coverage of Ford over the past year and who wrote a book about the mayor called Crazy Town, was one of two Globe and Mail reporters who say they have seen this week’s video.

The other Globe reporter who filed the story with Doolittle was Greg McArthur. Max Read is reporting for Gawker.

In Read’s story, he detailed his conversation with the person who supplied this new tape of Rob Ford – someone with an Ontario number who identified himself as “Jermaine” on Monday:

To be sure, there’s no evidence that Rob Ford is smoking crack in these photos. There’s no evidence that he’s smoking anything at all – just that he’s holding a pipe of the kind that one might use to smoke a variety of different drugs. Still: Enough to make a reporter salivate.

The problem – as Jermaine’s friend explained to me later on the phone – was that they wanted something fairly specific in exchange for the video: Another charity drive. That would reach six figures.

(Read says he then told his source that Gawker could only pay in the “mid four figures” and was waiting on Wednesday to publish the photos he was sent, showing screenshots of the video.)

About eight hours later, Twitter began rumbling about new breaking Rob Ford news. Robyn Doolittle, Canada’s star reporter on the Rob Ford crack beat, had seen a tape. Soon the Globe and Mail published its story: “Rob Ford takes leave as new drug video emerges.” At the top was one of Jermaine’s screenshots. He claimed via text that the Globe and Mail had paid him $10,000 for the stills. But, you know: Never trust a drug dealer.

You can see Read’s full detailing of his story here.

Files from The Canadian Press