Sun, Nov 03, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Toronto lawyer pans police chief


A lawyer for Toronto’s embattled mayor accused the city’s police chief of acting as “judge, jury and executioner” a day after police said they had obtained a copy of a long-rumored video that appears to show Rob Ford puffing on a crack pipe.

Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris attacked Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair on Friday for saying he was “disappointed” in the mayor at a news conference announcing the video had been recovered from a computer hard drive during an investigation of an associate of the mayor’s suspected of providing him with drugs.

“The chief said yesterday there is no evidence to charge him criminally in reference to this tape, so what the heck?” Morris said. “He wasn’t elected by the College of Cardinals and he shouldn’t be pontificating.”

Ford was elected mayor three years ago on a wave of discontent simmering in the city’s outlying suburbs. Since then he has survived an attempt to remove him from office on conflict-of-interest charges and has frequently made news for his increasingly erratic behavior.

Allegations Ford had been caught on video smoking crack first surfaced in May. Two reporters with the Toronto Star and one from the US Web site Gawker said they saw the video, but they did not obtain a copy.

Morris called on police to release the video saying it likely shows the mayor smoking something other than crack.

“Let’s see it,” Morris said. “You can call it a crack pipe or a pipe to smoke a, b, c or d, so let’s see it.”

“There is a lot of insinuation,” Morris said. “What was he doing here, what was he doing there. Well, if he was doing something illegal charge him.”

Police spokesman Mark Pugash said police do not have the authority to release the tape now that it is evidence before the courts. He said the courts will decide if and when the video of the mayor will be released.

Pugash said police have been seeking to question Ford. His lawyer has so far declined to bring him in.

Morris said on Friday that Ford would now be willing to view the tape, but would not answer questions.

Ford, his chief of staff and his brother Doug, a city councilor, hunkered down at the mayor’s mother’s house for a two-hour meeting on Friday amid growing calls that he step down.

All four major Toronto newspapers have called on Ford to resign. On Friday, the Toronto Board of Trade called on him to take a leave of absence.

Police said the video will come out when Ford’s associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug and extortion charges. Lisi, who was released on bail on Friday, is accused of threatening two alleged gang members who had been trying to sell the video to the media for US$100,000.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, a Ford ally, said he will meet with the mayor on Saturday and express the concerns of many councilors.

“I will hope that he’ll listen very carefully,” Kelly said. “I’m hoping that upon reflection that he’ll make the right decision.” Kelly declined to say whether he will ask Ford to resign.

Despite the pressure on Ford, municipal law makes no provision for his forced removal from office unless he is convicted and jailed for a criminal offence and voters may have the final word at next year’s election in which Ford has said he plans to run.

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