Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was fighting for his political life Friday amid a chorus of calls for him to quit after police revealed they had obtained a video that appeared to show him smoking a crack pipe.
"I have no reason to resign," Ford told reporters on Thursday. "I'm going to be out doing what the people elected me to do and that's save taxpayers money and run a great government that we’ve been running for the last three years."
Ford added that he could not comment further on the matter because the video is evidence in a criminal case before the courts. He took his children out trick-or-treating on Thursday night, wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, according to the Toronto Star.
The mayor denies using crack cocaine and had previously claimed the video "does not exist."
However, the police revelations triggered demands that Ford step down as "city councilors from across the political spectrum expressed shock and disappointment," the Toronto Star reported.
Even the Toronto Sun tabloid, which had long backed the populist mayor, urged Ford to quit. "Enough's enough, it's time to quit," the Sun's front page read on Friday.
Ford faced allegations in May that he had been caught on video puffing from a glass crack pipe. Two reporters with the Toronto Star and a Gawker journalist said they saw the video, but it has not been released publicly.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters Thursday about the video they had been recovered during an investigation dubbed "Project Brazen 2," a huge surveillance operation into a friend suspected of providing Ford with drugs.
The footage was originally shot on a mobile phone and "contained video images which appear to be those video images previously reported in the press," he said.
Blair said the video was recovered after being deleted from a computer hard drive, but it did not provide grounds to press charges.
"I think it's fair to say the mayor does appear in that video, but I'm not going to get into the detail of what activities are depicted on the video," Blair added. "This is an issue of significant public concern and I think that is a problem for the city."
An associate of the mayor, Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, was due to appear in court Friday charged him with extortion over an alleged forceful attempt to retrieve the cellphone that recorded the video. He has also been charged with trafficking marijuana and conspiracy.
The prosecutor in the Lisi case released documents Thursday showing they had rummaged through Ford's garbage in search of evidence of drug use.
The documents show that friends and former staffers of Ford were concerned that Lisi was "fuelling" the Toronto mayor's alleged drug use.
The police documents, ordered released by a judge, show Ford receiving packages from Lisi on several occasions.
Ford was elected mayor three years ago on a wave of discontent simmering in the city's suburbs. Since then he has survived an attempt to remove him from office on conflict-of-interest charges and has appeared in the news for his increasingly odd behavior. Through it all, the mayor has repeatedly refused to resign and pledged to run for re-election next year.
However, a poll released earlier this week showed Ford's approval rating has fallen to 39 percent from 49 percent in the last month.
"The mayor has said there wasn't a video," Toronto councilor Paula Fletcher told The Associated Press. "He has said there is a conspiracy against him. With Chief's Blair's press conference I think that's put to rest.".
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
First published November 1 2013, 7:06 AM