Video: Toronto Mayor admits crack use as wild ride in office continues
Rob Ford tells news conference he probably tried the drug in a ‘drunken stupor’
He has been thrown out of a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game for being drunk and belligerent. He groped a female politician at a fundraiser for a Jewish community group, and was asked to stop coaching a high school football team after having a violent confrontation with one of the players. He has admitted to drinking too much.
But until Tuesday, Rob Ford, the mayor of multicultural, eco-conscious, politically correct Toronto, had vehemently denied a persistent story of a video that showed him smoking crack cocaine.
“You asked me a question back in May and you can repeat that question,” Mr Ford told a crush of journalists, photographers and camera operators. “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But no, do I, am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”
During his brief, impromptu news conference outside of his City Hall office, Mr Ford insisted he has not been lying since May when he first denied reports that he used crack.
At that time, the website Gawker and the Toronto Star newspaper both reported having viewed a video from a man trying to sell it that apparently showed the mayor inhaling from a crack pipe and making homophobic remarks about another politicians.
Last week the questions surrounding the mayor intensified after Toronto’s police chief, William Blair, said his force had recovered that video from a computer seized in a drug and gang violence investigation.
“I wasn’t lying, you didn’t ask the correct questions,” Mr Ford said on Tuesday. “No, I’m not an addict and no, I do not do drugs. I made mistakes in the past and all I can do is apologise, but it is what it is.” In a tumultuous four-year term that will draw to a close next year, Mr Ford has been accused of a litany of boorish actions, profane outbursts and insensitive comments - so many, in fact, that one of his critics felt the need to compile a spreadsheet to keep track of them all.
But until this one, the episodes only seemed to reinforce Mr Ford’s standing among his core constituency, what he calls the Ford Nation, of disenchanted, right of centre suburbanites.
Now his mayoralty is in serious doubt. Mr Ford’s switch from outraged denial to confession was dramatic and swift. On a weekly radio talk show last Sunday, which the mayor co-hosts with his brother Doug, who is also a member of City Council, Mr Ford apologized, somewhat vaguely, for occasionally getting drunk, but avoided the cocaine issue.
It was not clear why the mayor changed course on Tuesday. But Mr Ford’s confession only increased the calls from members of City Council, opponents and allies alike for him to step down, at least temporarily.
“I think he’s lost the moral authority to lead,” Denzil Minnan-Wong, a longtime supporter, told reporters outside the mayor’s office shortly after the confession. “We’re in uncharted territory.”
Under Ontario municipal law, however, neither the City Council nor the province have the power to remove Mr Ford from office unless he stops coming to work for a protracted period.
Since May, both Mr Ford and his brother have rejected the drug allegations as little more than a smear campaign by the news media, which he has dismissed as “maggots,” reserving his strongest vitriol for the Toronto Star.