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Saturday 24 February 2018

'Crack film' mayor loses coach job

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been engulfed in allegations of crack smoking (AP/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been engulfed in allegations of crack smoking (AP/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Troubled Toronto mayor Rob Ford, at the centre of a scandal over a video allegedly showing the leader of Canada's largest city smoking crack cocaine, has been sacked from his job as football coach at a Catholic high school.

Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesman John Yan said the decision to remove Mr Ford as the head of Don Bosco Eagles Football programme was in connection with comments the mayor made to the Sun TV Network in March that parents found offensive.

"The mayor in the interview characterised the parent community here as not caring about their kids, that the students were involved in gangs and guns and that if it weren't for him they would be in jail," Mr Yan said. "I don't know of any parent who would want themselves characterised in the public media as negligent of their kids."

The alleged crack smoking video has not been released publicly and there is no way to verify whether it is authentic. Reports on the gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who claimed they had sold the drug to Mr Ford.

The Star said two journalists had watched a video that appears to show Mr Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it. Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.

The Star also said Mr Ford allegedly made a racist remark about high school football students he coached.

Mr Ford has mostly been ducking the media and his only comments on the scandal came on Friday, a day after the story broke, when he called the crack-smoking allegations "ridiculous" and "another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me".

On Wednesday morning Mr Ford had a testy exchange with a local TV reporter seeking comment. "Are you going to escort me all the way to city hall too," he mockingly asked a reporter for CTV television. "Did you bring your sleeping bag? Did you bring your pillow?"

The mayor's brother, city councillor Doug Ford, took to a microphone at City Hall yesterday to deliver a long, rambling defence of his sibling. "Rob is telling me these stories are untrue, that these allegations are ridiculous and I believe him," Doug Ford said, lashing out at the media for demanding an explanation. "If the mayor stopped and held a press conference every time the media made up a story about him, we would never have accomplished what we have.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in prison on a misdemeanour drug possession conviction and later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.

Press Association

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