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Recent Supreme Court ruling makes fighting back hard for Toronto mayor

Things get worse for Rob Ford: he can't sue the Star or Gawker for libel over crack-smoking stories.

Crackstarter campaign image: the push to make Rob Ford crack video public
Crackstarter campaign image: the push to make Rob Ford crack video public

Unearthing the crack video

The idea of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford as a crack-smoker in the literal sense has now taken hold. Seeing the video that sparked this whole drama now seems beside the point: the video's existence has been reported as fact.  Whether it is or not remains unproven, but in the world of virtual lynching, truth and fact are now as blurred as the video.

The Rob Ford Crackstarter campaign, close to raising $200,000 to buy the video, is arguably no longer necessary at this point.

Besides, surely it's only a matter of time before the video leaks. However, thanks to the magic of Taiwanese animation, you don't have to wait for that to happen:

The story keeps getting bigger, too: the Globe and Mail reports that the whole Ford brood was involved in the drug trade to some extent. Apparently Rob Ford's brother, City Councillor Doug Ford, sold hash in the Eighties. Of course, Doug Ford denied the allegations.

Journalists win new protection

While Gawker writer John Cook broke the Tom-Ford-as-crackhead story, the Toronto Star actually saw the damning video first. So, the possibility of the tape's existence had been known of in some Toronto circles already. Why didn't the Star break the story when it had the chance?

Maybe because the Star is so openly antagonistic towards Ford (though it's hard not to be if you're paying attention to his office at all): perhaps a headline reading "Mayor filmed smoking crack" may not have been taken as seriously, and the Star would have surely been targeted with a libel suit the minute it published the story.

On that last point, at least, the Star (and other news outlets) can rest easy: the Supreme Court has ruled that "Mayor filmed smoking crack" does not constitute libel, if the journalist doing so has carried out his or her due diligence.

In other words, before you call your local elected official a crack fiend, make sure you can back it up, no matter how weird that official's public conduct may be.

Explains a lot

At any rate, the idea that Ford has some sort of drug problem explains what can be charitably called erratic behaviour on his part: Ford isn't just bad at his job, he's spectacularly so. He does things while on the clock that people who have their acts together just don't do.

After over a week of silence, Rob Ford issued a short,odd statement denying the allegations. If you listen carefully, you will notice that Ford does not specifically deny having smoked crack. One would think that such a denial should be the first order of business.

Now cue the inevitable public hand-wringing, as if the public is truly expected to believe that nobody in Toronto's City Hall had any idea what the Mayor and his bro have been getting up to.

Meanwhile, an element of the story that is yet to really catch on is that these drug dealers service Toronto's elite. In other words, who's next? 

Here's that Crackstarter campaign, by the way, just so you can see how close it's getting to completion. They're pretty close, but, even if successful, there's no guarantee that the video's owner will sell to John Cook and his team.

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