Updated: The Ongoing Controversy Surrounding Mayor Rob Ford, Crack Allegations, and a Potential Cover-up
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Updated: The Ongoing Controversy Surrounding Mayor Rob Ford, Crack Allegations, and a Potential Cover-up

A timeline of recent events, as allegations concerning Rob Ford continue to mount.

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On Thursday, May 16, first Gawker and the Toronto Star published reports describing a video that allegedly depicts Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine and making racist and homophobic slurs—allegations the mayor has still not addressed in detail.

There have now been a great many twists and turns in this ongoing story. To help keep track, here is a chronology of events. We first posted this on Friday, May 24, one week after the story broke. We’ll keep updating it as events unfold.


The short summary: Gawker and the Toronto Star both report they’ve seen a video in which a man, who appears to be Toronto mayor Rob Ford, smokes out of a crack pipe. They were also given a photo which shows the mayor in the company of two men; one of those men is Anthony Smith, who was murdered on March 28. According to reports in various outlets: at least one person in the mayor’s office believes that Smith was murdered over the video; several people in the mayor’s office believe the video exists (or did at one point exist) and that the mayor knew of its existence and location; at least one person in the mayor’s office believes the mayor has a substance abuse problem and has urged him to get help; and one or more people with access to communications within the mayor’s office were asked to destroy records in which these matters are discussed. Councillors from across the political spectrum—though many emphasize that work continues at City Hall—say that this matter will not be resolved until the mayor gives a much fuller account of events than he has provided thus far.


May 16, 8:28 p.m.: John Cook, editor of Gawker, publishes a post in which he claims to have seen a video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking from what appears to be a crack pipe. Cook says the owners of the video want to sell it for a six-figure sum, which Gawker cannot afford, and also that the mayor’s office has been tipped off to the video’s existence. Out of fears the video will be purchased by the mayor or his allies, Cook explains that he is taking his story public to try to raise the necessary funds to buy it instead.

May 16, 11:45 p.m.: The Toronto Star publishes an article revealing that two of its reporters viewed what they believe to be the same video earlier in May, and that it was shown to them by men claiming to have sold crack cocaine to the mayor. The Star‘s article includes more detail about the video, including a report that the mayor apparently makes homophobic and racist remarks in it. The paper declined to pay the $100,000 it would have cost to purchase the video, but says it continues to be in touch with the men who recorded it.

May 17, 8:30 a.m.: Rob Ford shows up for work, briefly dismisses the allegations as “ridiculous,” and takes no further questions from media.

May 17, 12:30 p.m.: Ford attends a PFLAG ceremony to celebrate gender and sexual diversity. The mayor reads a proclamation, stands apart from his colleagues for the remainder of the ceremony, and then marches silently inside City Hall amid a throng of reporters. Soon after, he leaves the building without addressing the allegations further.

May 17, 1:15 p.m.: Gawker launches its “Crackstarter” campaign, a crowd-funding attempt to raise $200,000 to buy the video. Among the incentives to participate: a promise to deliver the phone on which the video was shot to the first person to make a single $10,000 donation to their effort.

May 18: The mayor and his brother, councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North), cancel their weekly Newstalk 1010 radio program, The City, but promise to return the following week.

May 20: Ford-friendly councillors like James Pasternak begin publicly asking the mayor to respond to the allegations.

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May 21, 9:30 a.m.: Ford attends a special city council meeting on the proposal to permit a new casino in Toronto. He makes no reference to the allegations against him, and avoids the dozens of reporters eager to ask him questions. After a year of advocating for expanded gambling, Ford sees his casino hopes go down in defeat; council votes 40-4 against allowing a new site downtown.

May 22, 11:30 a.m.: The Toronto Catholic District School Board announces that Rob Ford will no longer be allowed to coach the Don Bosco Eagles football team, or any other team in the board. TCDSB spokesman John Yan does not tie the decision to the crack allegations, but says Ford’s comments about his players on a Sun News program “painted a negative picture of the entire Don Bosco community.” Sources close to the mayor say he is devastated.

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May 22 1:30 p.m.: Doug Ford gives a bizarre press conference in which he reads from prepared remarks for nine minutes. He says the mayor has told him the allegations are ridiculous and “I believe him,” excoriates the media outlets that published the reports, and then spends the bulk of his time listing the administration’s economic accomplishments. (Nine million hotel rooms in Toronto were booked last year, we learn.) He takes no questions from the media.

May 22, 8 p.m.: Mayor Ford’s strongest media supporter, the Toronto Sun, publishes an editorial demanding he break his silence. “Ford needs to directly address these allegations, or get help and step aside,” the editorial concludes.

May 23, 1:45 p.m.: Ford fires one of his closest allies, chief of staff Mark Towhey. Towhey won’t say why he is leaving, but tells reporters, “I’ve given the mayor my advice. He can choose to take it or not take it.” Later that night sources inside the mayor’s office tell several media outlets that Towhey was fired for repeatedly telling Ford to go to rehab.

May 23, 6:10 p.m.: Gawker editor John Cook says his outlet has lost contact with the owners of the alleged video. He warns potential contributors to the fundraising campaign to “proceed with caution.”

May 24, 10:05 a.m.: Deputy mayor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) holds a press conference to address the ongoing situation. He confirms that some members of council’s executive committee, which includes the mayor’s closest allies, are drafting an open letter urging Ford to address the allegations in full. Holyday also tries to reassure residents that work continues at City Hall, maintaining that “the business of the city will continue as usual.” It is seven days and 14 hours since Gawker first published its article.

May 24, 3:30 p.m.: Mayor Rob Ford finally addresses the allegations during a press conference in his City Hall office. He denies all the allegations and attributes them to the Toronto Star‘s vendetta against him, and refuses to take any questions. Immediately after, many councillors say that one short prepared statement cannot bring this to a close, and call on the mayor to address the allegations in greater detail.

Rob Ford addressing allegations he was caught on video smoking crack on Friday, May 24.

May 25: The Globe and Mail publishes a long-awaited article detailing their investigation into the mayor’s brother, Doug Ford, who they allege was a mid-level hashish dealer in Etobicoke in the 1980s. His partner in that trade, they go on, was David Price, who was recently hired for a senior position in the mayor’s office, though nobody is clear on what his duties are. Though the events described in the article are 30 years old, the paper notes that they paint “a portrait of a family once deeply immersed in the illegal drug scene.”

May 26, 1 p.m.: Rob and Doug Ford host their weekly radio show on Newstalk 1010. The mayor lashes out at the media, calling them a “bunch of maggots” and says “there’s no video” of him smoking crack cocaine. Doug strongly denies the Globe‘s allegations that he used to deal hashish. A caller to the show—who lied about being a Ford supporter in order to get on the air—asks why mayor Ford appeared in a photo with Anthony Smith, who was recently shot and killed outside a night club. The photo was given to the Toronto Star by the same man who showed them the alleged crack video. Mayor Ford dismisses the caller as a “racist.”

May 27, 2 p.m.: Press secretary George Christopoulos and communication assistant Isaac Ransom resign from the mayor’s office “on principle.” Ford holds a press conference in which he both apologizes for calling the media “maggots” and thanks the men for their work, suggesting they simply found better employment opportunities elsewhere.

May 28: The Star reports that David Price— the recently-hired Ford senior staffer who the Globe reported was Doug Ford’s partner in the ’80s hash dealing—had told then-chief-of-staff Mark Towhey that he might have information on the location of the alleged video. Towhey reported this to the Toronto police, who sent detectives to question him further. Price refuses to comment publicly on the story.

May 29: According to the Toronto Star someone (it isn’t quite clear who) was told to delete email and phone records exchanged by the now-departed senior staffers from the mayor’s office—correspondence in which they reportedly discussed the alleged video. Soon after, a City spokesperson issues a carefully worded statement saying that “the Mayor’s Office did not ask the City to destroy records.”

May 30, 6 a.m.: The Star reports that on May 17, the day after the Gawker story broke, Mayor Ford gave his aides an exact address where he believed the alleged video was located. The report says Mark Towhey was not present for the conversation, but was approached shortly thereafter by David Price, who asked him what staff should do if they knew of the video’s location—that is, that the mayor was Price’s source regarding the video’s location.

May 30, 8:20 a.m.: The Toronto Police Service confirms via a press release that on that same day, May 17, a Canada-wide warrant had been issued for a second man in connection with the murder of Anthony Smith—one of the two men in the photo with Rob Ford. One week later Hanad Mohamed was arrested in Fort McMurray, Alberta; he will appear in court in Toronto on Friday, May 31.

May 30, 1 p.m.: News breaks that two more staffers from the mayor’s office—executive assistant Kia Nejatian and policy advisor Brian Johnston—have resigned, making for a total of five departures in a week. Several hours later Ford holds a press conference in which he maintains that “everything is going fine” and expresses his eagerness to run for a second term as mayor in the 2014 election.

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