While more than 2,000 of Canada’s municipal leaders met in Vancouver this weekend to talk taxpayers, much of the buzz behind the scenes surrounded who wasn’t there – namely, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

“It’s a topic of conversation because it’s like watching a train wreck and you never know what’s going to happen next,” said Senator and former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell. “Mayor Ford obviously has some significant problems and he's going to have to deal with them."

Ford was in Toronto Saturday appearing at a charity fundraiser at a local ice cream store instead of attending the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Vancouver.

The mayor of Canada’s largest city has repeatedly denied allegations that he was caught on video using a glass pipe similar to one that could be used for smoking crack-cocaine.

Ford has denied there even is a video, and CTV News has been unable to confirm it exists.

But that didn’t stop a barrage of criticism from mayors from across the country

Some said there was a sense of relief that Ford didn’t come to the Vancouver-held conference – bringing a media circus along with him.

“I think it would certainly have taken away from, taken our eye off the ball if you would,” said Delta Mayor Lois Jackson. “It’s quite a sad situation.”

Saanich’s mayor threw some of the fiercest criticism at Ford, saying he was glad the embattled mayor wasn’t at the conference.

“I think he would’ve been a big distraction for this conference,” Frank Leonard said. “I don’t know if he should be at a conference or in jail.”

Leonard also said Ford has not been giving direct answers to questions about the allegations against him.

“He’s lost the trust of Canada, not to mention the city,” he said. “So I have no sympathy for him and I think all of us in Canada are embarrassed.”

Ford could still make an appearance at the conference, which ends Sunday night.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos