Toronto city councillor Doug Ford has broken his silence on the drug-use allegations against his brother, Mayor Rob Ford. His response came more than 36 hours after reports of a video that's alleged to show Rob smoking a glass pipe containing what appears to be crack cocaine.
In the past, the Etobicoke councillor has been one of his brother's most vocal and swift defenders, but until Saturday he had not been seen nor spoken publicly since the allegations broke Thursday night. Radio station Newstalk 1010 is now reporting that Doug told them: "I have never seen my brother involved with anything like coke."
Neither Doug nor his staff have returned phone messages or e-mails from The Globe since news of the video broke.
Two reporters at the Toronto Star say they have seen the video, which has not been made public. According to reports from the Star and the U.S. website Gawker, the video was made by a group of drug dealers who tried to sell it to news outlets. The story has made international news headlines.
Rob briefly dismissed the crack-cocaine allegations Friday, calling them "ridiculous." But the councillor was not on hand to support him and was not at city hall.
In the past, the brothers have taken to their popular radio talk show The City with Mayor Rob Ford to address their critics. But the Fords will not host the show this Sunday as previously planned.
The station also said they could not comment on the long-term future of the program or provide any further details. A report on their website says the show is expected to carry on as usual next week.
Doug Ford has a long history of vigorously defending his brother.
In November, when Rob was ordered out of office for breaching conflict-of-interest rules, Doug told listeners his brother was "an honest man" with "integrity" who would continue to move the city forward. He immediately vowed to fight the verdict with his brother and was by Rob's side when he successfully appealed in January.
Doug blamed a left-wing conspiracy for an audit into Mayor Ford's 2010 campaign finances that found that he broke election rules dozens of times and spent $40,168 more than allowed.
"They want to politically kill him," he told reporters at the time. "That's how much they despise Rob Ford."
He has also addressed critics of his brother's work ethic, calling Rob a "workaholic" after complaints that he used city staff and resources for the high-school football team he coaches.
In March of 2012, when former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson accused the mayor of groping her at a party, Doug called the accusations "disgusting" on their radio show. Doug also took to the program to vigorously dismiss a story from the Toronto Star that the mayor was visibly intoxicated at the Garrison Ball and had to be escorted out of the charity gala.
Appearing in an interview with the radio station AM640 the day the story broke, he accused the Toronto Star of plotting to remove Rob from office and denied that his brother had a drinking problem.
As of Saturday afternoon, a crowd-sourcing effort on Gawker to raise $200,000 to purchase the video in question had collected more than $53,000.
The website says if it raises the money but does not manage to buy the video from the drug dealers it will "donate 100 per cent of the proceeds to a Canadian non-profit institution that helps people suffering from drug addiction and its various consequences."