(Refiles to fix hedline)
By Julie Gordon
TORONTO May 24 Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, under
pressure to respond to allegations he was filmed using drugs,
said on Friday that he does not smoke crack cocaine and could
not comment on a video he had not seen or does not exist.
"There has been a serious accusation from the Toronto Star
that I use crack cocaine. I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I
an addict of crack cocaine," he told a news conference.
The Toronto Star and Internet gossip blog Gawker reported
last week they had separately seen a cellphone video that
allegedly shows Ford smoking a substance from a crack pipe while
in the company of people involved in the drug trade.
"As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have
never seen or does not exist," said Ford, who did not take
questions from reporters.
His comments mark his first direct response to the
allegations since the Star and Gawker stories were published
last Thursday. Shortly afterward, he called the reports
"ridiculous," but did not give a full statement or denial.
Since the allegations surfaced, he has been hounded by news
media at every turn, while several city councillors and allies
have encouraged him to confront the issue directly.
The Toronto Sun, a right-leaning newspaper generally
considered to be Ford-friendly, published an editorial on
Thursday demanding the mayor either strongly deny the
allegations or step down from office to seek medical help.
Earlier on Friday, six members of the mayor's executive
committee, including Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, published an
open letter to the mayor urging him to confront the allegations.
Ford told reporters he had remained quiet on the advice of
The video, which Reuters cannot independently verify, is
allegedly being shopped around by people involved in the drug
trade. Gawker launched a "Crackstarter" campaign to raise
$200,000 to buy it and publish it online.
The controversy, meanwhile, has made headlines across Canada
and around the world, and drawn ridicule from late-night TV
humorists Jimmy Kimmel and John Stewart.
On Wednesday, Ford lost his much-loved job as a volunteer
high school football coach, and on Thursday he fired his chief
This is not the first controversy for Ford, who has drawn
criticism for skipping city council meetings to coach football
and engaging in a confrontation outside his home with a
He was briefly ordered out of office in 2012 after being
found guilty of a conflict of interest, but won an appeal and
was allowed to finish his four-year term.
(With additional writing by Cameron French; Editing by Jeffrey
Hodgson and Philip Barbara)