Pubdate: Fri, 12 Aug 2016
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Page: 4
Copyright: 2016 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Diana Mehta


TORONTO - Three years after sparking a firestorm of controversy, a 
notorious video featuring Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine was made 
public on Thursday, a move that angered the late Toronto mayor's 
family and drew mixed reactions from the public.

The so-called "crack video" was released after the conclusion of a 
court case involving Ford's friend and driver Alexander (Sandro) 
Lisi, who faced an extortion charge related to efforts made to 
retrieve the clip.

Some people called publishing the video "tasteless" and shameful, 
while others said they respected that media outlets were simply doing 
their job. A further few said the video of the controversial 
politician, who died on March 22, 2016 from a rare form of cancer at 
age 46, was simply "sad."

Ford's brother, however, said people should let the larger-than-life 
politician rest in peace.

"Rob had a disease like millions of other people have diseases in our 
country and he went to go get help, he admitted it," Doug Ford told 
local TV station CP24. "They just want to rehash it and trample all 
over Rob's grave."

The crack video, taken in a dimly lit room, shows Ford sitting on a 
chair, holding what appears to be a crack pipe while speaking with 
someone off camera. Derogatory comments about then-Liberal leader 
Justin Trudeau can be heard on the tape, though it is unclear at 
times what exactly Ford says.

The video first came to the public's attention in May 2013 when 
American news site Gawker and the Toronto Star reported seeing a clip 
in which Ford appears to be smoking crack and making racist and 
homophobic comments.

The media outlets said the video was being shopped around by men 
allegedly involved in the drug trade.

When asked about the video, Ford repeatedly denied any use of illegal 
drugs. But he eventually admitted in November 2013 that he had smoked 
crack cocaine in the past during one of his "drunken stupors."

On Thursday, a number of people expressed their distaste at the video 
being made public just a few months after Ford's death.

"The Rob Ford video that is going around is straight up 
disrespectful. Lack of compassion is sadly viewed as entertainment in 
this sick world," one person said on Twitter.

"Three years ago, this video would have been the impetus for so much. 
Now it's just plain sad to watch," tweeted another.

Some, however, said they understood why news organizations published the video.

"I have no interest in watching/ sharing the Rob Ford video but I 
fully respect that news media presenting it are doing their jobs," 
tweeted one person.

"Ford Nation" owes the media an apology. Journalists work hard to 
uncover the truth. For politicians misrepresenting is part of the 
job," wrote another.

The "crack" video was not the only clip that propelled Ford to 
international celebrity status. He was later captured on camera 
spewing profanities and making offensive comments.

The former mayor eventually took a leave of absence to seek help for 
substance abuse at the end of April 2014.

He was diagnosed with cancer in September 2014 and withdrew from his 
bid for re-election as mayor, opting to run for city council instead.

Lisi, who remained Ford's friend throughout the former mayor's ups 
and downs in the public eye, was arrested in October 2013, after a 
large police investigation. He had been scheduled to stand trial on 
the extortion charge in September.

But a Crown lawyer said Thursday that a resolution had been reached 
with Lisi's lawyers on the matter in July, and asked a Toronto judge 
for the extortion charge to be withdrawn.

"Given the current frailties of the case... the interests of the 
public are served through this resolution," said Crown prosecutor 
John Patton, adding that the lack of co-operation from individuals 
Lisi was accused of extorting, as well as Ford's death had weakened the case.

As part of the resolution, Lisi has agreed to abide by certain 
conditions that include keeping the peace, maintaining good behaviour 
and not having contact with certain individuals involved in his 
efforts to retrieve the Ford "crack video."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom