The infamous video that features former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine was released Thursday after a publication ban was lifted in a Canadian court.
Ford died of cancer in March.
The video was played in open court after a judge dropped a charge of extortion against Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, who was Ford’s driver, according to the Canadian Press. Lisi had been accused of attempting to extort a gang member to obtain the video.
Ford was Toronto’s mayor until 2014, when he withdrew his candidacy for re-election due to health concerns. He served as city councillor to Toronto’s Ward 2 until his death.
The video — which had not previously been seen by the public — garnered international media attention in May 2013, when journalists from Gawker and the Toronto Star reported they had viewed it.
The video shows Ford appearing to smoke crack in a basement, and slurring his words while speaking to Elena Basso, a friend of Ford’s who has since been convicted of trafficking cocaine.
Although Thursday marks the first time the video has been played in open court, a small amount of people — including journalists, court officers, lawyers, police officials, and students on a field trip — had previously seen the video in a courtroom on the first day of Lisi’s preliminary hearing in March 2015, according to the Toronto Star.
When it was first reported three years ago, Ford vehemently denied the video existed and insisted he did not smoke crack cocaine. He later admitted to smoking the drug in one of his “drunken stupors.”
The incident sparked an avalanche of media coverage and a roiling debate among Torontonians over Ford’s behaviour and mayoralty. Ford faced numerous public calls to resign, but his staunch base of supporters known as “Ford Nation” — who favoured his aggressive tax-cutting proposals — insisted he was fit to hold elected office.
Ford was never charged with a crime.
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