Toronto mayor urges police to release video, apologizes for 'mistakes'

TORONTO Sun Nov 3, 2013 6:18pm EST

1 of 2. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his mother's house with his Chief of Staff Earl Provost (R) in Toronto, November 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Sunday urged his police chief to release a video that media reports say show him smoking what appears to be crack cocaine and issued a broad apology for mistakes in his past, including public drunkenness.

But Ford, who previously said he does not use crack, said he could not discuss the content of the video until he had seen it. He also said he would remain in office and "ride the storm out," and that he still plans to run for reelection in 2014.

"Whatever this video shows ... Toronto residents deserve to see it, and people need to judge for themselves what they see on this video," Ford said on his weekly radio show.

"I'm the first one to admit I'm not perfect. I have made mistakes. I have made mistakes and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes. I sincerely, sincerely apologize to my family, to the citizens, to taxpayers of this great city."

Pressed by one caller to the show to specify exactly what he was apologizing for, he said the mistakes included being inebriated in public at a popular festival in August, returning to city hall carrying "a half empty bottle of brandy" after a St. Patrick's Day event last year, and "a lot of stupid things."

Ford said he wanted to learn from the past and make changes in his life, though he added he expected to moderate his alcohol intake rather than stopping drinking entirely.

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The mayor's apology comes after Toronto police said last week they had recovered a copy of a video that was "consistent" with one reportedly seen by journalists at the Toronto Star newspaper and by media blog Gawker earlier this year.

Both the Star and Gawker said the video shows the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. The controversy made headlines globally and drew ridicule from late-night TV humorists including Jon Stewart.

Last week several Toronto city councilors called for Ford to step down or take a leave of absence, and four major Toronto daily newspapers, including the Star, published editorials calling for him to resign.

Ford's lawyer said on Friday that his client was not smoking crack in the video, which has dominated Canadian headlines for months, even though it has been seen by only a few people.

The Star and Gawker said they were shown the video, separately, by a man who wanted to sell it to them. Gawker raised funds to buy the video, but said it was unable to re-establish contact with the seller.

Ford, a right-wing politician elected on a cost-cutting platform in 2010, said on Thursday he could not comment on the matter because the video was evidence in a separate case before the courts.

Police Chief Bill Blair said on Thursday police had retrieved the video from a deleted hard drive recovered in a drug investigation.

Blair would not describe what was happening on the video, but said it showed the mayor, and that he was "disappointed" by what he saw.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

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