Morning Brew: the Rob Ford scandal special edition
Yesterday was a tough day for Mayor Rob Ford. A 500-page stack of police evidence released by court order unleashed an unprecedented torrent of controversy. Practically every page of the document would have made front-page news by itself - the police surveillance, the photos of Ford's meetings, the erratic driving - but then police chief Bill Blair trumped the lot with a sensational press conference.
To briefly summarize: Ford was photographed making several exchanges with alleged drug dealer Sandro Lisi, police chief Blair confirmed investigators had recovered the crack video, then Ford went on the defensive. Oh, and he also was photographed urinating in public.
A succession of councillors and ministers called for Ford to step aside. Cllr. Josh Matlow said the mayor should "honestly answer questions or resign immediately," Cllr. Lindsay Luby said take a leave of absence, Cllr. Shelley Carroll said quit, Cllr. James Pasternak accused Ford of "zapping the energy" out of City Hall, the Ontario's Municipal Affairs Minister said the allegations were "troubling."
Then the Toronto Sun published a special 28-page extra edition dedicated to the story under the headline "Nightmare on Ford Street."
Rob Ford said he was unable to defend against the accusations because it was "before the courts," however that doesn't seem to be the case, according to lawyers. The mayor hasn't been charged with a crime and Ford's deflection could be a way of strengthening his precarious position, says criminal defence lawyer Nathan Gorham.
Amidst the melee, police also added extortion to the list of charges faced by Sandro Lisi and re-arrested him. It appears the additional accusations step from his search for the video in the wake of the first Toronto Star and Gawker stories. He is due in court later today.
Bill Carroll over at AM640 thinks the mayor called his show last night and tried to disguise his voice. See what you think. It doesn't really sound like Ford but some of the mannerisms are similar. A neighbour? Family member?
Toronto's daily papers were unanimous in their position. Here is a selection of the editorials:
- For the sake of Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford should resign [Toronto Star]
- Toronto deserves better than Ford [Globe and Mail]
- For the good of Toronto, Rob Ford must step down [National Post]
- City Hall still needs fiscal conservatism ... but Rob Ford needs to stand down [Toronto Sun]
Dennis Morris, Rob Ford's lawyer, says it's Bill Blair who should be resigning after his surprisingly detailed press conference. He told Metro Morning that he's "very happy" the video came to light, saying it will help clear the mayor's name. "There's no allegation of the mayor being involved in smoking any drug whatsoever," he said.
The bottom line this morning: the province and the city is powerless to boot Ford from office and he appears unwilling to step aside, for now.
Here are the documents in full for your dissection:
OTHER NEWS IN BRIEF:
- Fatal crash closes all westbound lanes on Highway 401 near Milton [CTV News]
- City makes public 2,373 pages of emails from Rob Ford's key aides [National Post]
- Couple's double suicide underscores struggles for elderly [CBC]
- Royal Agricultural Winter Fair's trophies are polished and ready to go [Toronto Star]
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.