A Brady Bunch-esque pictorial of all the characters involved in Ford's worsening drug scandal.
Update: Rob Ford has commented on today's revelations by saying: "I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately, I can't because it's before the courts. That's all I can say. I have no reason to resign." Reporters yelled questions at him about whether he lied to the people of Toronto, but the mayor just walked away.
Early this morning, a line of reporters with microphones and broadcast cameras waited outside of Rob Ford’s house because today’s a very special day for Ford Nation. When Rob Ford emerged from his suburban cave, he was immediately bombarded with questions about whether or not he is at the center of a drug-related police investigation, along with questions about his relationship with Alexander Lisi, a man who is known as Rob Ford’s driver, close friend, and an alleged drug dealer with a history of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, Rob Ford didn’t take the questions gracefully and ended up screaming and yelling, “Get off my property! What don’t you understand? Get off my property, partner!” at the reporters who, undoubtedly, are only asking the questions that should be on every Torontonian’s mind right now.
The Lisi and Ford connection hit a boiling point this morning after the Toronto police released a nearly 500-page document—with a lot of the presumably juicy stuff blacked out and redacted to avoid implicating those who are currently innocent—detailing results of a police surveillance operation that clearly targeted Rob Ford and Alexander Lisi. The Police dubbed their municipal spy mission “Project Brazen 2,” which I like to believe was inspired by the unbelievably bold and inappropriate behavior Toronto’s mayor appears to believe he can get away with.
I did not, truthfully, expect a major bombshell to come out of today’s release, given that an investigation is still underway, and Rob Ford has been gleefully avoiding the issue of whether or not he’s a crack user by decorating his office like a haunted house. I was very wrong. Shortly after the document was released, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair vindicated what Gawker and the Toronto Star have been claiming since May—much to the ire of the Ford Family and their legion of largely suburban political supporters. Blair held a press conference where he admitted that yes, the crack video exists, and yes, Rob Ford is indisputably pictured in it with a crack pipe in his hands.
Police Chief Blair's shocking press conference.
I don’t need to tell you that this is a huge fucking deal. Jonathan Goldsbie, a great reporter on all things Toronto, tweeted that he was “shaking” when Bill Blair confirmed that Toronto’s mayor was indeed sucking back crack smoke on video—a sentiment that is surely shared with concerned citizens all over the city.
Not only did Blair confirm that the video is “consistent” with the descriptions that Gawker and the Toronto Star offered back in May, he’s insisted that it’s not possible the video was faked—cross that one off the excuse list, Dougie and Robbie—and that the crack video “appears to be what it is.” He also added that “as a citizen of Toronto [he is] disappointed.” Me too.
Beyond this mind-blowing confirmation by the Chief of Police that the mayor of Canada’s largest city was in fact videotaped in a trap house smoking crack and calling Justin Trudeau “a fag,” are the details of Rob Ford’s incredibly sketchy friendship with the previously mentioned Alexander Lisi, who was described by a Ford staffer as Robbie’s “only close friend.” The Toronto Police have been watching Ford and Lisi with the help of a Cessna aircraft and other police units, and in the document released today, numerous strange meetings are detailed between these two bozos.
Rob Ford and Alexander Lisi met through a man named Payman Aboodowleh, who is alleged to be a violent “enforcer” for Lisi and did time for violent crimes and has a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer. Aboodowleh caused a stir when he was brought on as a volunteer coach for the Don Bosco football team that Ford used to consider his pride and joy, and Aboodowleh apparently expressed some concern that Lisi was “fueling the mayor’s drug abuse.” Ford Staffers also believe Lisi was selling the mayor drugs.
In one particularly strange encounter, the Toronto Police observed Lisi coming to meet Ford at a local soccer game—presumably one being played by children. According to the police report, Ford and Lisi “spoke for a few minutes,” then Lisi went over to his car, grabbed a plastic bag that appeared to “contain items,” threw in some cans of Minute Maid for good measure, then walked over to Robbie’s Escalade and dropped the bag on the “centre console area.” After making the drop, Lisi went over to meet Ford again, where Ford was “walking with a toddler.”
Another sketchy meeting between the two again involved a drop-off made by Lisi in Ford’s vehicle, while Ford was away from his car. The two met up at an Esso station but didn’t speak to each other. Rob Ford went in to use the can, and Lisi emerged from his Range Rover with a manila envelope, and then went into the gas station to buy a few bottles of Gatorade and chips. After stocking up on snacks, Lisi walked over to the passenger side door of Ford’s Escalade, and disappeared from view of the gas station surveillance video. The implication here, of course, is that he dropped off the manila envelope—whatever it happened to contain.
Reading about these encounters in the matter-of-fact way in which surveillance reports are written, really make you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat with Robbie as he motors around town, taking suspicious meetings with an alleged drug dealer, and eating McDonald’s. On July 28, 2013, the Toronto Police looked through Robbie’s garbage and found Iceberg Vodka, Russian Prince Vodka, and McDonald’s receipts. That’s it. McDonald’s seems to be a favourite spot for Ford and Lisi, as another peculiar meeting between the two pals took place in a ‘Dons parking lot where the mayor took a break to pee on some trees.
A surveillance photo of Rob Ford peeing on a tree.
While these frequent encounters between Lisi and Ford certainly seem to indicate that their relationship was not on the up and up—why would our mayor continually visit, and receive mysterious packages from, an alleged drug dealer and criminal—whether or not these transactions were criminal or drug related will come out in court. If the police do have evidence of these meetings being drug deals, they haven’t revealed that yet.
The real question, now, though, is when Rob Ford will step down, get arrested, or be ejected from office? As the Toronto Star noted in May after the crack story broke, mayors in Toronto cannot be impeached. This is a dumbfounding truth that underlies the absurdity of this entire situation. Toronto, in the face of a direct confirmation from our Chief of Police that our mayor smokes crack, is a massive city in need of actual administration and attention. Clearly our Big Mac, crack, and vodka loving mayor is not capable of managing Toronto—and that is now not even up for debate.
Rob Ford and his domineering brother Doug have done a great job of spinning this issue around and around so that their followers in the so-called Ford Nation have taken their side by saying things like reporters are “maggots” and that the video—that we now absolutely know exists—does not exist. The Ontario Press Council was even forced to hold an inquiry to examine the ethics and reporting practices of the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail whose awesome story about Doug Ford’s past history as, surprise, a drug dealer, enraged the Ford family. The complaints against the media were, obviously, dismissed.
What needs to happen now is for Rob Ford to step down and accept the fact that he has a major drug problem—a rallying cry that is already being heard in City Council. The Province of Ontario can’t intervene either, unless some criminal charges are laid against Ford, which could presumably happen any day now.
Ford should not continue to take advantage of our slow-moving system just so he can stick around as the mayor for a little bit longer. It’s sick, and detrimental to the city as a whole. No one smokes crack casually on camera without having some major issues that need to get worked out—and that’s a really sad reality. On a human level, people should feel bad for Rob. Crack is a hell of a drug and our mayor has a problem with it—but he should not, under any circumstances, continue to run our city.
In less than six months, Rob Ford has gone from a guy who was easy to make jokes about, thanks to his frequent moments of unintentional slapstick and bizarre gaffes, to a guy that obviously is overloaded with personal problems and can no longer function as Toronto’s mayor. But, if his recent behavior is any indication, he probably will ride around in the mayor-mobile until the wheels fall off—and everyone in Toronto is losing out as a result.
We have a broken municipal system that does not allow our city council to kick out a crack smoker from the mayoral throne. Ultimately, that’s the upsetting part about all of this, because Toronto is a fantastic city, and we deserve a much better leader than this angry, confused, drug-addled man… even if he can beat Hulk Hogan at an arm-wrestling match.
Get help Rob. It’s time to move on.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire