Politics
Gawker's Rob Ford

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Credits: QMI AGENCY

SHAWN JEFFORDS | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- Gawker's Crackstarter cash raised to buy the alleged video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack will be donated to four Ontario non-profit organizations.

Editor John Cook said Thursday that the U.S.-based gossip website had not been able to procure the video after the online fundraising campaign met its goal of $200,000.

That money will now be donated to the Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Unison Health and Community Services, and the Ontario Regional Addictions Partnership Committee.

All of the organizations will receive just over $46,000.

"I'm disappointed to announce definitively that the money won't be going to purchase and publish a video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine," Cook said in a statement on the website.

"Instead, we are pursuing the Plan B we laid out when we began the project: Donating the funds to Canadian organizations that address the fallout from substance abuse."

Gawker's campaign raised $201,199 but had to pay more than $16,000 in fees to the service that hosted the fund and PayPal for processing the payments. That left them with nearly $185,000, which has been held in a non-interest bearing account, Cook said.

The cash was originally intended to go to drug dealers with supposed ties to the Somali community who had the alleged Ford video.

Not long after the scandal erupted, Gawker said it lost contact with the person who claimed to have the video.

Cook pledged to give the cash to charity if the video could not be purchased.

The Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke put together a proposal and approached Gawker for the funds.

They asked the website for $100,000 to hire a youth outreach worker for two years who would work with at-risk Somali youth. Recent high-profile media stories, including the Ford video, were criticized as impugning the entire Somali community.

The group's Osman Ali said he was thrilled when Cook called him Wednesday with the news they had been chosen to receive funds.

Ali said he hopes the funding can help address not just the problems that have made headlines, but also the underlying issues Somali youth face.

"Not just the (alleged Ford) video, or Project Traveller or all these killings in the community," he said. "We need to help these youth and prevent them from getting involved in drugs and violence."

Ali said the group has repeatedly approached the province asking for funding for an outreach worker. It's never worked out, so this cash from Gawker will make a difference, he said.

He said he hopes the donation will bring this dark chapter in the community's history to a close.

"The community went through a lot and this is one positive thing to come out of that," he said. "We will be very pleased to see this go away."


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