Global Politics

Crack, Lies and Videotape — it's a tale only Toronto can tell

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford responds to the media about the Toronto police investigation dubbed "Project Brazen 2", October 31, 2013.

Credit:

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Here's the latest chapter in the case of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Earlier this year, two reporters were shown a video of the mayor allegedly puffing on a glass crack pipe.

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The Toronto Star and the news site Gawker broke the story of the video, but didn't obtain the video from the person selling it. Mayor Ford denied that the video existed and that he was a crack user.

Yesterday, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced that investigators now have that video of Ford allegedly smoking crack. Robyn Doolittle is a reporter for The Toronto Star. Doolittle was one of the few people who saw the video when it surfaced earlier this year.

"After the Toronto Star revealed that two of our reporters had seen a video of the mayor apparently smoking crack," she says, "the police launched their own investigation... it was called Project Brazen 2."

The police just released a report of about 500 pages, says Doolittle, half of which was redacted, or blacked out. She says the story it tells is not simple. 

Apparently, during a bust of a gun-smuggling ring, the police confiscated a computer and found the video on the computer's drive. One part of the story involves someone connected to the mayor who has been charged with extortion for trying to get the video back. 

Doolittle says her newspaper had been reporting on issues with Mayor Ford even before her stories on the video.

"Earlier, a month before that, we reported that the mayor was asked to leave a military ball because he was impaired. We reported that his staff was trying to get him into rehab, for what they described as a drinking problem. Throughout this summer, we wrote about his connections to this gang, about his activities in connection to indivduals who lived in what neighbors called a crack house."

So, she says, the video is just one piece of the story. "This has kind of been unfolding all along, but there's always been this contingent of the city saying, unless you have the video, we won't believe you."

"The fact that the police have come out and said, no, there is a video, we have seen it and it does look like Rob Ford, that is what is really significant."