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It Wasn't Crack Toronto's Mayor Was Smoking, Lawyer Suggests

An already dramatic story took another dramatic turn Friday when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's lawyer challenged police to release a video that news outlets have said shows the mayor smoking what appears to have been crack cocaine.

What's more, attorney Dennis Morris suggested in an interview with CBC News that if Ford was caught on video smoking anything, it might have been marijuana or tobacco.

"In my view, the reporters from The Toronto Star [which broke the original story about Ford's alleged drug use] have probably never smoked crack cocaine" and might not have known what they were looking at, Morris said.

He added that "for someone to approach them asking [for] a large sum of money, would it make more sense to say 'I have a video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine, or have a video of the mayor smoking perhaps tobacco or marijuana.' Which one would you be interested in if you're going to buy a video?"

Not only did Morris say Ford now welcomes the news that the video is in the hands of police, he also wants authorities to release it.

And Morris issued another challenge: "I urge the police chief to state under oath that he has seen a video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine."

The CBC says a Toronto police spokesman repeated what Police Chief Bill Blair said Thursday — that the video is evidence that will be presented in court, not released to the public.

The city of Toronto's website notes that:

"Marijuana is illegal in Canada. It is a controlled substance in Canada under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

"It is a criminal offence to import, export, grow, possess, sell, and give marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

"Using marijuana can result in arrest, a fine, imprisonment and a criminal record. The one exception is medical use under physician supervision outlined by the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations."

We wrote Thursday about how:

Last spring, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was compelled to say that "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine" because of reports about a video that allegedly showed him doing just that.

Now he's back in the same uncomfortable spotlight.

"Toronto Police have recovered the video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine," Toronto's The Star newspaper reports.

The CBC writes that at a press conference, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said that images of Ford on the video are "consistent with that which had previously been described in various media reports."

But while Blair added that "it's fair to say that the mayor does appear in that video," he also said "I'm not going to get into the detail of what activity is depicted on that video."

In addition to saying he does not use crack, Ford previously questioned whether any such video existed or whether it might have been fabricated. He also blamed the news media for spreading a "ridiculous" story. ...

There were no reports as of midday Thursday about any charges against Ford or the possibility that there will be any. The Star says that one person, Alexander Sandro Lisi, "will face an extortion charge related to the video. The Star earlier reported that Lisi was involved in attempts to recover the video."

Ford, 44, is a political independent. (The city has nonpartisan mayoral elections.) For much more on him, see this CBC package — "The Agony of Rob Ford."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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