(Photo: Reuters/Aaron Harris)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has announced that he is immediately taking a break from his re-election campaign, hinged on second chances, to get help for alcoholism after news broke Wednesday night about a new video allegedly showing him smoking crack cocaine again.
"It's not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life," Ford said in a statement Wednesday according to CNN. "I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time."
A report in The Globe And Mail Wednesday suggested however that Ford is also struggling with cocaine as well. According to the report, Ford was secretly filmed by a self-professed drug dealer in his sister's basement smoking a substance described as crack cocaine early Saturday morning.
It was just a year ago, last May, when cell-phone video emerged via another drug dealer showing him smoking crack cocaine. He denied that allegation at first then finally admitted that he had smoked it in a drunken stupor.
A clip of the recording was viewed by two Globe And Mail reporters who say it shows Ford "taking a drag from a long copper-colored pipe, exhaling a cloud of smoke and then frantically shaking his right hand."
The activity was reportedly recorded about 1:15 a.m. and is part of a three-video package the drug dealer is hoping to shop for "at least six figures".
Ford declined to respond to questions about the videos but said in a statement: "I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help," he said.
In one of the clips, Ford reportedly "rapidly shifts his weight back and forth on the spot, talking into his cellphone and his right arm swinging at his side.
"When the camera pans around the room, a man that looks like Alessandro 'Sandro' Lisi, the mayor's former driver who has been charged with drug dealing and extortion, can be seen in the background. Mr. Ford's sister, Kathy, who has admitted in media interviews to being a drug addict, is sitting in front of her brother. In the last of three clips, Mr. Ford is holding the pipe and speaking to his sister," notes the report.
Seth Weinstein, Lisi' lawyer, said it would be "inappropriate" to comment on the video until it is verified.
Ford's lawyer Dennis Morris, told CNN that his client "has to take a break to re-energize, because he realizes he has flaws that have to be addressed."
He also questioned the authenticity of the video noting it is difficult to prove what his client is smoking.
"If these guys are drug dealers and there's money involved, they can say whatever they want to get more money, to extract more money from the people who are paying," he said of the drug dealer.