Rob Ford needs to break silence, says former press secretary

TORONTO – According to his former press secretary, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford needs to speak publicly about what is arguably the biggest controversy in his two-and-a-half years as mayor — allegations that he appears in a video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.

Ford has been silent on the alleged video since last Friday when he called the allegations “ridiculous.”

“He hasn’t handled it well in the sense that he needs to say something. The silence is deafening right now,” Adrienne Batra said Wednesday during an interview on Global News’ The Morning Show. “He has created a vacuum and that vacuum is being filled by the likes of us and his political opposition.”

Ford said nothing Tuesday about reports last week by Gawker and the Toronto Star that a video purportedly showing someone who looks like Ford smoking from a pipe with a group of men allegedly involved in the drug trade is being shopped around.

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Global News has not seen the alleged video and cannot verify the allegations being made by Gawker and the Toronto Star.

“The mayor has very smart, good, talented people around him and they are giving him different scenarios as to how to deal with this,” Batra speculated. “They’re giving him the scenario, ‘If you have a problem, admit it and step aside temporarily.’ They’re also saying, ‘You have to abjectly deny this.'”

Councillors at city hall are also calling on him to address the allegations.

“It’s important for the mayor to clear the air on this video,” Councillor Paula Fletcher said Tuesday. “If the allegations are true, I think many people will be bitterly disappointed. Because, of course, he’s been outspoken against guns and gangs, and if these allegations are true, it appears he has been hanging out with the guns and gangs crowd.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said the issue needs to be dealt with quickly so council can get back to governing the city.

Gawker has been trying to raise $200,000 to buy and publicly post the video. It had raised more than $104,400 by early Wednesday.

-with a file from James Armstrong

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