Crack For The Mayor

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Crack For The Mayor

Toronto mayor Rob Ford admits having smoked cocaine, CBS reports on Tuesday.

According to the Associated Press, Ford admitted to using crack «probably a year ago» during a «drunken stupor.» He made the revelations to reporters at City Hall.

«I answered your question,» Ford added, according to The Globe and Mail. «You ask the question properly, I’ll answer it. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. All I can do now is apologize and move on.”

TORONTO (AP) — Rob Ford said Tuesday he loves his job and will stay on as mayor of Toronto despite admitting for the first time that he smoked crack.

Ford earlier acknowledged he smoked crack «probably a year ago» when he was in a «drunken stupor,» but balked at growing pressure on him to resign.

«I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing,» Ford said. «On Oct. 27 of 2014, I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor.»

The allegations that the mayor of Canada’s largest city had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in news reports in May. Ford initially insisted the video didn’t exist, sidestepped questions about whether he had ever smoked crack and rebuffed growing calls on him to step down.

The mayor was forced to backtrack after police said last week they had obtained a copy of the video in the course of a drug investigation against a friend of Ford’s.

«Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,» Ford told reporters earlier outside his office. «There have been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape or video. I want to see the state that I was in.»

Police have said the video, which has not been released publicly, does not constitute enough evidence to charge the mayor with a crime.

Police spokesman Mark Pugush said Ford’s acknowledgement of crack use will be passed on to investigators. Several Toronto city councilors called on Ford to step down and Canada’s justice minister urged him to get help.

Ford, 44, earlier walked out of his office and asked reporters to ask him the question they first asked him in May. He then acknowledged he smoked crack but said: «Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it, probably in one of my drunken stupors a year ago.»

Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offense.

City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford’s executive committee, said he would put forward a motion asking Ford to take a leave of absence.

«My first reaction was ‘Wow’,» Minnan-Wong said.

Councilor Jaye Robinson said the mayor needs to step aside and address his problems.

«We have become a laughing stock of North America, if not the world,» Robinson said.

Canada’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay said it was «a sad day for the city of Toronto.»

«As a human being, I think the mayor of Toronto needs to get help,» MacKay said.

Ford later told the Toronto Sun newspaper that he is not stepping down or taking a leave of absence.

«I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back,» Ford told the paper, which is sympathetic to the mayor. «I felt like I had to say it. It is what it is. I feel two inches high right now but I needed to deal with it. I am not going to quit or take a leave.»

The populist Ford has been dogged by allegations of bad behavior since becoming mayor three years ago, promising to end what he called wasteful spending at city hall. His campaign galvanized conservatives in Toronto’s outlying suburbs, where initiatives like downtown bike lanes were considered excessive and elitist.

The crack episode is not the first time Ford has been forced to admit drug use. During the campaign, Ford acknowledged after repeated denials that he was busted for marijuana possession in Florida in 1999.

Ford apologized over the weekend for excessive drinking. He said he shouldn’t have been drunk in public when he appeared at a street festival in August, calling it «pure stupidity.»

He also said he got «a little out of control» after St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, when city hall security guards said they witnessed a «very intoxicated’ Ford having trouble walking and swearing at aides.

Ford said he was «hammered» at that street festival this summer.

The mayor has also been accused of make an obscene gesture from his car and texting while driving. In 2011, Ford angered the city’s gay community by declining to attend Toronto’s gay pride parade, breaking with tradition that three previous mayors had kept up.

Earlier this year, the mayor was fired from his cherished side-job as a volunteer high school football coach after he made disparaging remarks to a TV network about parents and their kids.

On Tuesday, Ford’s brother, Doug, criticized Police Chief Bill Blair for saying he was «disappointed» in the mayor after police recovered the tape last week. Doug Ford called the chief’s comments «inappropriate» and «biased» and said Blair should step aside.

«We have the most political police chief we have ever seen,» said Doug Ford, an influential city councilor. «The police chief believes he’s the judge, the jury and the executioner.»

Blair says he responded honestly when asked about his feelings after watching the video.

The allegations about Ford smoking crack surfaced when two reporters with the Toronto Star and one from the U.S. website Gawker said they saw the video but they did not obtain a copy. Ford vilified the Toronto Star, accusing the paper of trying to take him down.

The mayor has called on the police to release the tape, but police said they are prohibited from doing so because it is evidence before the courts.

Police said the video will come out when Ford’s associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug and extortion charges. Lisi is accused of threatening two alleged gang members who had been trying to sell the video to the media.

Police have said they want to talk to the mayor, but his lawyer so far has declined.

Mayor of Toronto Admits to Drug Use

Mayor Rob Ford said he smoked crack cocaine when he was in a «drunken stupor» last year.

By Courtesy of NBC on Publish Date November 5, 2013. Photo by Mark Blinch/Reuters. Watch in Times Video »

TORONTO — He has been thrown out of a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game for being drunk and belligerent. He groped a female politician at a fund-raiser 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 report about 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 his City Hall office, Mr. Ford, 44, insisted that he had not been lying since May, when he first denied reports that he had used crack. At that time, the blog Gawker and The Toronto Star both said their reporters had seen 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 politician.

Last week, the questions surrounding the mayor intensified after Toronto’s police chief, William Blair, said his force had recovered the 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 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 apologize, 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-center 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 on Sunday, which the mayor 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.

Moments in the Toronto Mayor’s Scandal

Earlier this year, Mayor Rob Ford denied smoking crack cocaine but now admits to drug use and remains adamant that he will remain in office.

By Channon Hodge on Publish Date November 7, 2013. Photo by Aaron Harris/Reuters. Watch in Times Video »

About two hours before the mayor’s admission, Doug Ford extended his attack toward Chief Blair, who during a news conference last week said of the video, “As a citizen of the city, I am disappointed.”

Doug Ford, his hands noticeably trembling, said at a news conference that the remark showed that the police chief was biased and called for him to step aside until after all investigations related to the mayor are finished.

Rob Ford, who was not initially regarded as a serious mayoral candidate in 2010, focused heavily on issues that resonated with disgruntled suburban voters, many of whom had lost their jobs because of factory closings in Toronto in the past decade.

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Toronto had long developed policies to limit private automobile use in favor of buses, subways and streetcars. But Mr. Ford vowed to end the city’s “war on cars,” the preferred mode of transport for suburbanites. Ending a newly introduced municipal automobile registration tax was also high on his campaign agenda.

But most of all, Mr. Ford declared that the city’s prosperous, growing downtown was filled with spoiled elites who were robbing suburbanites of tax dollars to their own ends.

Combined with the decision of the previous mayor, David Miller, not to seek re-election and the votes split between liberal candidates, Mr. Ford emerged as mayor.

“If it was the old city of Toronto, you wouldn’t see anybody of his ilk finish second or third, let alone fourth.” said Adam Vaughan, a city councilor from downtown who to a large degree represents all that Mr. Ford campaigned against.

About four and a half hours after his admission, Mr. Ford appeared in an anteroom to his office crowded with reporters and photographers. His once-defiant tone was replaced by expressions of regret and remorse.

“To the residents of Toronto: I know I have let you down and I cannot do anything else other than apologize,” said Mr. Ford, near tears at times.

But he was equally adamant that he would not heed calls to step down, even temporarily: “I was elected to do a job, and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing.”

Whatever Mr. Ford’s shortcomings, he has never been accused of corruption. And because Canadian mayors lack the powers of American mayors, Mr. Ford has failed with many of his grand ambitions for the city — a casino and a giant Ferris wheel, among others — while, at the same time, spoiling plans of his left-of-center opponents on the Council.

But Mr. Vaughan said that the negative effects of the mayor and his brother on the city go beyond bad publicity.

“Toronto used to be a city that set the pace,” said Mr. Vaughan, who many anticipate will run for mayor next year, citing the city’s history in housing, transit and policing. “But if you are of the political persuasion that believes government is bad, having the Council constantly fail doesn’t offend you.”

Like many in Toronto, Mr. Vaughan is uncertain about how Mr. Ford’s story will end. But he said that the power of the mayor’s antitax, antigovernment platform cannot be ignored.

“If he had kept his drinking under control,” Mr. Vaughan said, “if he could have kept his other habits under control, let alone out of videos, he may have been very tough to beat in the next election.”

A version of this article appears in print on November 6, 2013, on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Toronto Mayor Admits Crack Use, as Wild Ride in Office Continues. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Embattled Toronto mayor faces the press

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    TORONTO Rob Ford said Tuesday he loves his job and will stay on as mayor of Toronto despite admitting for the first time that he smoked crack .

    Ford earlier acknowledged he smoked crack «probably a year ago» when he was in a «drunken stupor,» but balked at growing pressure on him to resign.

    «I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing,» Ford said. «On Oct. 27 of 2014, I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor.»

    The allegations that the mayor of Canada’s largest city had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in news reports in May. Ford initially insisted the video didn’t exist, sidestepped questions about whether he had ever smoked crack and rebuffed growing calls on him to step down.

    The mayor was forced to backtrack after police said last week they had obtained a copy of the video in the course of a drug investigation against a friend of Ford’s.

    «Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,» Ford told reporters earlier outside his office. «There have been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape or video. I want to see the state that I was in.»

    Police have said the video, which has not been released publicly, does not constitute enough evidence to charge the mayor with a crime.

    Police spokesman Mark Pugush said Ford’s acknowledgement of crack use will be passed on to investigators. Several Toronto city councilors called on Ford to step down and Canada’s justice minister urged him to get help.

    Ford, 44, earlier walked out of his office and asked reporters to ask him the question they first asked him in May. He then acknowledged he smoked crack but said: «Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it, probably in one of my drunken stupors a year ago.»

    Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offense.

    City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford’s executive committee, said he would put forward a motion asking Ford to take a leave of absence.

    «My first reaction was ‘Wow’,» Minnan-Wong said.

    Councilor Jaye Robinson said the mayor needs to step aside and address his problems.

    «We have become a laughing stock of North America, if not the world,» Robinson said.

    Canada’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay said it was «a sad day for the city of Toronto.»

    «As a human being, I think the mayor of Toronto needs to get help,» MacKay said.

    Ford later told the Toronto Sun newspaper that he is not stepping down or taking a leave of absence.

    «I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back,» Ford told the paper, which is sympathetic to the mayor. «I felt like I had to say it. It is what it is. I feel two inches high right now but I needed to deal with it. I am not going to quit or take a leave.»

    The populist Ford has been dogged by allegations of bad behavior since becoming mayor three years ago, promising to end what he called wasteful spending at city hall. His campaign galvanized conservatives in Toronto’s outlying suburbs, where initiatives like downtown bike lanes were considered excessive and elitist.

    The crack episode is not the first time Ford has been forced to admit drug use. During the campaign, Ford acknowledged after repeated denials that he was busted for marijuana possession in Florida in 1999.

    Ford apologized over the weekend for excessive drinking. He said he shouldn’t have been drunk in public when he appeared at a street festival in August, calling it «pure stupidity.»

    He also said he got «a little out of control» after St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, when city hall security guards said they witnessed a «very intoxicated’ Ford having trouble walking and swearing at aides.

    Ford said he was «hammered» at that street festival this summer.

    The mayor has also been accused of make an obscene gesture from his car and texting while driving. In 2011, Ford angered the city’s gay community by declining to attend Toronto’s gay pride parade, breaking with tradition that three previous mayors had kept up.

    Earlier this year, the mayor was fired from his cherished side-job as a volunteer high school football coach after he made disparaging remarks to a TV network about parents and their kids.

    On Tuesday, Ford’s brother, Doug, criticized Police Chief Bill Blair for saying he was «disappointed» in the mayor after police recovered the tape last week. Doug Ford called the chief’s comments «inappropriate» and «biased» and said Blair should step aside.

    «We have the most political police chief we have ever seen,» said Doug Ford, an influential city councilor. «The police chief believes he’s the judge, the jury and the executioner.»

    Blair says he responded honestly when asked about his feelings after watching the video.

    The allegations about Ford smoking crack surfaced when two reporters with the Toronto Star and one from the U.S. website Gawker said they saw the video but they did not obtain a copy. Ford vilified the Toronto Star, accusing the paper of trying to take him down.

    The mayor has called on the police to release the tape, but police said they are prohibited from doing so because it is evidence before the courts.

    Police said the video will come out when Ford’s associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug and extortion charges. Lisi is accused of threatening two alleged gang members who had been trying to sell the video to the media.

    Police have said they want to talk to the mayor, but his lawyer so far has declined.


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