Toronto mayor sorry for crude outburst but won’t resign
Canadian football team disappointed Rob Ford wore its jersey while making remarks
Toronto’s under-fire mayor has denied pressing a female staffer for oral sex, in an obscenity-laced statement on live television in which he also threatened to take legal action against former staff who spoke to police about his drinking and drug use.
Rob Ford, who admitted last week to smoking crack, later announced he was getting professional help, but he again refused to step down and used a typical mix of contrition and defiance in several public appearances yesterday.
He wore a sports jersey to a city council session, where outraged councillors turned their backs each time he spoke and again called on him to step aside.
Later, councillor Karen Stintz said the city had suspended all school trips to City Hall indefinitely because staff deemed it unsafe.
Mr Ford drew gasps from reporters when he used an obscenity as he denied telling a staffer he wanted to have oral sex.
“I’ve never said that in my life to her, I would never do that,” he said on live television.
The father of two school-age children said he is “happily married” and used crude language to say he enjoys enough oral sex at home.
Mr Ford later apologised for his remarks at a news conference. He explained he was pushed “over the line” by newly released court documents that included allegations against him involving cocaine, escorts and prostitution. He called the allegations “100 per cent lies”.
He said his integrity as a father and husband had been attacked, prompting him to “see red”.
“I acted on complete impulse in my remarks,” Mr Ford said.
He said he did not want to comment on the particulars of the health care support he is receiving and asked for privacy for his family.
The mayor said he would take legal action against his former chief of staff, Mark Towhey, and two other aides over their interviews with police that were detailed in court documents released on Wednesday.
Mr Ford did not specify what the aides might have said that was untrue. He also said he would take action against a waiter who said he believed Mr Ford and a woman were snorting cocaine in a private room at a restaurant.
“I have to take legal action against the waiter who said I was doing lines,” he said. “Outright lies, that is not true.”
Mr Ford acknowledged to reporters that he might have consumed alcohol while driving in the past, but he immediately went on the defence.
“I’m not perfect. Maybe you are but I’m not, okay?” he told journalists. “I know none of you guys have ever had a drink and got behind the wheel.”
Later, many of Toronto’s 44-member City Council turned their backs as the mayor spoke about city affairs.
An ardent Canadian football fan, Mr Ford wore a Toronto Argonauts jersey and cowboy boots at the session, prompting a protest from the team.
“These latest remarks, while wearing our team’s jersey, are particularly disappointing,” the Canadian Football League team said in a statement.
The council voted overwhelmingly to ask Mr Ford to take a leave of absence, but the motion was non-binding because the council lacks the authority to force the mayor from office unless he is convicted of a crime. The council is set to consider another motion to strip Mr Ford of some of his powers.