Toronto mayor loses two more top aides after crack scandal

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes a statement to the media at City Hall alongside his brother and city councillor Doug Ford, after his press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes a statement to the media at City Hall alongside his brother and city councillor Doug Ford, after his press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac

Two top aides quit Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s office on Monday as the embattled leader of Canada’s biggest city faces lingering allegations he was caught smoking crack cocaine on video, accusations he has firmly denied.

The departures of the mayor’s press secretary and deputy press secretary came just days after Ford fired his chief of staff. The mayor confirmed on Monday that both George Christopoulos and Isaac Ransom left of their own accord.

“I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and I want to thank them for working hard in this office,” he told a crush of journalists outside his office. “That’s it, it’s business as usual.”

Christopoulos and Ransom could not be reached for comment. But their departures renewed questions about whether the mayor would be able to weather his most serious controversy to date.

Ford has been under fire since reporters from the Toronto Star and Gawker Media said in separate reports on May 16 that they had seen a video that purports to show Ford smoking crack. The mayor directly denied the allegations on Friday, after initially dismissing the media stories as “ridiculous,” without giving a full statement.

Reuters cannot confirm the existence of the video or its content.

The video, according to The Star and Gawker, was being shopped around by people involved in the drug trade. Both media outlets declined to pay the six-figure sum requested by the video’s owners.

The controversy has made headlines across Canada and outside the country and drawn ridicule from late-night TV humorists Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and Jon Stewart.

Speaking on his weekly radio show on Sunday, Ford brushed off the scandal, calling the media a “bunch of maggots,” and promised to run in the next election.

“I’ll be the first putting my name on that ballot,” he said.

Ford apologized for his maggot comment on Monday.

The drug-use allegations are the latest in a string of scandals for the mayor, who has been chided for ignoring city work to coach high school football and was briefly ordered out of office last year after he was found guilty of conflict of interest.

While some of Ford’s opponents have called for him to step down, one municipal affairs specialist said there was little that could be done under the current system to force a Toronto mayor from office.

“There is no recall or impeachment provision,” said John Mascarin, a lawyer with Aird & Berlis LLP. “Stupidity is not one of the things” that can get you removed.

Elected officials can be removed from City Hall by court order in a conflict-of-interest situation, or if they do not attend council meetings for several months without being formally excused.

‘FORD NATION’

Also on Ford’s side is the steadfast backing of his core supporters, said Ivor Tossell, a journalist and author of the biography ‘The Gift of Ford’.

“One of Ford’s great political assets is he plays on a sense of marginalization and grievance among his supporters. He likes to play the little guy,” he said. “In a way, the more the institutions like the media attack him, the stronger he gets.”

The latest controversy does not appear to have hurt Ford’s popularity, according to a Forum Research Inc poll released over the weekend, although he is at risk of being ousted in a 2014 election.

The poll, taken on Friday after Ford denied the drug-use claims, found the mayor would still lose a one-on-one battle if pitted against Olivia Chow, a former city councilor and current federal member of Parliament widely touted as a candidate.

It showed Ford would get 36 percent of the vote, in line with a May 10 poll taken before the latest scandal broke, while Chow would get more than half the vote.

The mayor’s popularity has been attributed to the support of the “Ford Nation,” suburban voters who pushed Ford into the city’s top office in 2010 and back his agenda of cutting taxes and reducing city spending.

“Rob Ford is really both the Teflon and Kevlar Mayor – nothing sticks to him and nothing penetrates his armor,” Forum Research founder Lorne Bozinoff said in a statement.

“His recent troubles have had absolutely no effect on his electoral prospects.”

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.