Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied that he smokes crack cocaine and said he is not an addict, breaking a week of silence over reports of a video purportedly showing him using the drug.
However, critics were not appeased, with one city councilor questioning whether the mayor told “the whole truth” and another calling on him to resign.
The mayor of Canada’s largest city did not say whether he has ever used crack. He did not take questions from reporters at a news conference at City Hall, held after close allies released a letter urging him to address the reports.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” Ford said.
Ford had been ducking the media and his only comments before Friday on the scandal came a week ago when he called the crack smoking allegations “ridiculous” and said the Toronto Star newspaper was out to get him.
Ford said he had kept quiet because his lawyer advised him “not to say a word.”
The video has not been released publicly and its authenticity has not been verified.
Reports on gossip Web site Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who said they had sold the drug to Ford. The Associated Press has not seen the video.
The Star reported that two journalists had watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe.
Ford criticized the media for judging him.
“It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I’ve been judged by the media without any evidence,” Ford said.
City Councilor Glenn De Baeremaeker said he was disappointed in the mayor’s statement and called on Ford to resign. De Baeremaeker said he believes the reports about Ford’s alleged drug use, and believes Ford’s tenure is over.
“I don’t believe the mayor,” he said. “He should resign and then go seek help.”
Toronto City Councilor John Parker called the statement too little too late.
“I’m not sure we’ve heard the whole truth,” Parker said.
The mayor’s statement came at the end of a dramatic week. Ford fired his chief of staff on Thursday, but gave no reason for Mark Towhey’s dismissal.
Ford was also fired from his job as football coach at a Catholic high school on Wednesday for reasons unrelated to the scandal over the alleged crack video.
Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesman John Yan said the decision to remove Ford as the head of the football program had to do with the comments the mayor made to the Sun TV Network in March. Yan said Ford characterized the parent community as not caring about their kids, that students were involved in gangs and guns and if it were not for him they would be in jail.