POLITICS

Doug Ford Says Rob 'Getting The Support He Needs'

11/12/2013 04:00 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
TORONTO - A defiant Mayor Rob Ford made it clear Tuesday he was ready for a fight as council prepared to debate calling on him to take a leave in light of his admitted crack cocaine use and binge drinking.

Ford showed no sign of heeding calls from friends and foes alike that he go into rehab or spend time off dealing with his personal issues.

He was, he boasted, doing very well although he refused to say what steps he's taking.

"Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words," he said. "Things are going great, absolutely fantastic."

On Wednesday, a city councillor is expected to put forward a non-binding motion demanding Ford take a leave of absence.

If that doesn't work, motion sponsor Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong has said he planned to ask council to petition the province to oust Ford.

"Let's get it on," said Ford, who spent five hours signing hundreds of bobblehead likenesses of himself for eager buyers at city hall.

"I have saved more money than any mayor in Toronto's history and that's what I'm going to continue to do."

Earlier, Coun. Doug Ford said his brother's admission to having smoked crack and drinking himself into a stupor was no reason to take time off to seek help for his problems.

The mayor, Doug Ford insisted, was getting "the support he needs."

"He doesn't want to be stepping aside for two weeks," Ford said at city hall. "He has to keep busy."

Doug Ford, his brother's ardent defender, said he expected a "very political" week.

"Of course, it will be a flogging," the councillor said.

Despite late-night talk-show mocking and laughter at Ford's expense, the mayor's internationally renowned woes have proven damaging to Toronto's image, a new study suggests.

The Cormex Research study released Tuesday finds 52 per cent of the city's international, negative exposure in the media is related to the mayor.

"The city's tone of coverage is indeed worsening," said Andrew Laing, president of Cormex.

"It has a longer-term impact on how people view the city in terms of a place to move to, invest in, study at, that sort of thing."

Only the Toronto International Film Festival has received slightly more coverage in print and online, the survey found.

"The appealing nature of this (Ford) story is that it currently has a number of elements that keep it fuelled," Laing said.

The main element itself — a notorious, 90-second cellphone video appearing to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine — was brought to a Toronto courtroom Tuesday by a police officer on a password-protected, encrypted drive.

The police have actually seized two videos, as referred to by Police Chief Bill Blair in a recent news conference, but the Crown said Tuesday one is a subset of the other.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Ian Nordheimer watched the videos in chambers as he considered an application for access to the video by a man seen posing with the mayor in a widely published photograph.

Lawyers for Mohammad Khattak, who was charged with gang and drug offences as part of Project Traveller, say his reputation is being harmed by being associated in the public's mind with the so-called crack video.

"For the last 5 1/2 months, everyone believes that he's the one behind making the video, possessing the video and trying to distribute the video," lawyer Nathan Gorham said outside court.

"It's humiliating."

The Crown has said Khattak is neither seen nor heard on the video, but his lawyers still want access to it so he can see if there are any "leads" to help him determine who made it so he can possibly sue them.

After watching the videos, Nordheimer said "theoretically" information on the video could help someone pursue such leads. He promised to rule soon on whether to allow Khattak to view it.

Nordheimer could also rule at any time on releasing remaining parts of a document that shed light on Ford's relationship with his friend Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, an alleged drug dealer who faces extortion charges in relation to the video.

Sections of the Lisi court document released Oct. 31 revealed that police believe Ford's photo with the three men was taken at a west-end home that an informant described as a "crack house."

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Lisi's drug case was put over Tuesday.

_ With files from Jessica Lepore.

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