Toronto Mayor Rob Ford defiantly declared on Thursday that he had no intention of resigning, despite the steady exodus of staffers from his office amid a scandal over reports of a video that purportedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.
Two more key Ford aides quit on Thursday: Brian Johnston, the mayor’s policy adviser on council relations, and Kia Nejatian, his executive assistant. The mayor has lost five staff members since the furor over the video erupted last week. Among them was his chief of staff, whom Ford fired.
Ford has said there is no video and has called the allegations ridiculous, but will not say whether he has ever used crack.
At a feisty news conference, Ford downplayed the upheaval among this staff.
“There is nothing going on in my office,” Ford said. “Everything is going fine.”
Critics and several of Ford’s allies have urged the mayor to address the video reports more directly. Some have declared they do not believe his denials and have called on him to resign as mayor of Canada’s largest city.
“I’m not stepping aside,” Ford said on Thursday.
He also again refused to answer questions about whether he has ever smoked crack.
“Anything else?” he asked repeatedly when asked about it.
The video has not been released publicly, and its authenticity has not been verified.
The Toronto Star newspaper and the Web site Gawker first reported the video, saying it was taken by men who said they sold drugs to Ford. The Star reported that two journalists had watched a video that shows Ford inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it. Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.
The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction, but later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.