Crack Facts: a look at everything we know about the Rob Ford drug scandal

Crack Facts: a look at everything we know about the Rob Ford drug scandal

Six weeks into the Rob Ford crack scandal, the surge of new details has slowed to a trickle, the video is likely gone and the mayor is steadfastly refusing to answer any more questions. It may be time for Ford watchers to accept that they’ll never be certain whether the mayor is a crack-smoking (gravy) train wreck or the object of a vicious smear campaign—or a little of both. Below, we sum up the current state of knowledge on Crackgate.

Did Rob Ford smoke crack cocaine? 

The answer depends on whether or not you believe the journalists from Gawker and the Toronto Star. Ford, however, hasn’t done much to quell speculation. His denial came a week after the story broke and noticeably stuck to the present tense (“I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine”).

Is there any other evidence? Nothing concrete. Earlier this month, an unnamed source told Gawker that Ford habitually visited a notorious bungalow at 15 Windsor Road in Etobicoke to go on “binges,” a story that seems to have been corroborated by a comment on a local blog before the scandal broke. In March, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson also suggested Ford might have been on cocaine at a Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee party at the Arcadian Court.

Wasn’t there a photo of Ford with some alleged drug dealers? Right you are. The picture shows Ford with two men who were arrested in a police raid targeting drug and gun traffickers, along with a man who was shot and killed in March. Ford addressed the photo on his radio show, saying, “I take pictures with everybody. Everywhere I go, as of last night, I take pictures with everyone.” Trickier to explain: why the picture appears to have been taken in front of that notorious bungalow on Windsor Road.

Did the video ever exist?  Ford has declared that “the video does not exist.” However, there are some signs, in addition to the Star and Gawker’s stories, that there was a clip. A police source told CTV that investigators overheard people discussing the Rob Ford crack video in detail several weeks before the story broke. A man in the apartment where the video was allegedly held told the National Post he has seen it. And leaks from Ford’s office suggest the mayor himself told staffers where the video was being kept.

If it existed, why can’t I see it? After Gawker raised $200,000 in a crowd-funded campaign to buy the video, the clip’s peddler told the site (via an intermediary) that it was “gone.” Gawker says the intense media scrutiny spooked the owner. He also may have been pressured by Ford supporters in his community who used details in the Star’s stories to out him.

Could the video still come out? There’s a small chance. Gawker doesn’t know whether “gone” means the video has been destroyed, handed over to the Fords, or is in someone else’s hands. The owner could be lying to get a break from media attention. The intermediary between Gawker and the owner originally said there was a second copy as well, but no sign of it has surfaced. Finally, the tape could have been seized by police, either during last week’s massive raids or as part of a previous investigation, which means it could come out in court proceedings.

What is Gawker doing with the money raised through its online crowd-funding campaign? The site is still hoping to use the money to buy a copy of the video, but if it can’t do so soon, it will give the money to a Canadian non-profit that supports people suffering from addiction (suggestions are welcome).

So nothing else is going to happen?
Unless the video comes out or more evidence surfaces. Ford has replaced the staffers who resigned or were fired in the past month; local journalists have returned to covering issues at city hall; and the international press has moved on.


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