By Cameron French
TORONTO Nov 5 Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted
on Tuesday he has smoked crack cocaine, probably "in one of my
drunken stupors," but insisted he's not an addict and said he
would stay in office and run for reelection next year.
Speaking just days after Toronto's police chief confirmed
that police have recovered a copy of a video that two media
organizations have said shows the mayor smoking the drug, Ford
said he had smoked crack about a year ago.
"Yes I have smoked crack cocaine... Probably in one of my
drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago," he
told reporters outside his office.
Later, he returned to address the media with an emotional
formal statement. "To the residents of Toronto, I know I have
let you down, and I can't do anything else but apologize," he
Elected in 2010 on a cost-cutting platform, Ford has been
able to maintain strong voter support in his suburban base even
as the scandal has escalated. A poll taken after Police Chief
Bill Blair confirmed the existence of the video put Ford's
approval rating at 44 percent, up five points from a previous
But while Ford's popular support has held strong, his once
rock-solid supporters at City Hall have started wavering.
City councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford's
cabinet-like executive committee, said he will bring a motion to
the next city council meeting asking Ford to take a leave of
absence. Council does not have the power to force Ford out of
"It is very disappointing to have the mayor of the City of
Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine," he told reporters. "I
was disappointed at two levels: firstly that he did it, but
secondly that it took him so long to admit it."
Another motion circulating at City Hall would seek to
restrict Ford's ability to remove people from his executive
committee and other standing committees.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne voiced concern about the
events in Toronto, but said the province would not intervene.
"I am not going to pre-empt what the mayor may or may not
do," she told reporters. "I have said I'm concerned, the police
service and the judicial system have to take action, but the
mayor will have to make his decisions about what is appropriate
right now... That's his responsibility."
'HAMMERED' AT FESTIVAL
Ford has already apologized for "mistakes" in his past,
admitting to being "hammered" at a street festival this summer
and drunk at City Hall after-hours on St. Patrick's Day last
year. All four big Toronto newspapers, including the
right-leaning Toronto Sun, have urged him to quit.
"I don't even remember," Ford said on Tuesday of his drug
use. "After some of the stuff that you guys have seen me, the
state I've been in. It's a problem."
In May, when the Toronto Star newspaper and the Gawker media
blog first reported the existence of the video, Ford said he
does not use crack cocaine, and that he could not comment on a
video he has not seen.
Blair said on Thursday that police had obtained a video
"consistent" with the Gawker and Star accounts, recovering the
video from a deleted hard drive scooped up as part of a
wide-ranging drug probe.
But that video did not in itself support laying charges
against the mayor, Blair said.
Ford on Tuesday repeated a plea to the police to release the
video, which he told the Toronto Sun was probably "not pretty".
Contacted after Ford's admission on Tuesday, a police
spokeswoman said: "The information will be passed on to
Ford's predicament is reminiscent of former Washington D.C.
mayor Marion Barry, who was infamously caught smoking
crack-cocaine on a videotape in a Washington hotel during an FBI
COUNCIL SUPPORT WANING
Ford's personal life made headlines even before he was
In 2006, when he was a member of city council, Ford caused
what the Canadian Broadcasting Corp called "a drunken ruckus"
during a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game, shouting obscenities
and insults until he was ejected.
In 2008, police charged him with assault and threats to his
wife, but then withdrew the charges, citing inconsistencies in
her story. Ford maintained his innocence, and the two later
Despite the turmoil and despite his shrinking council
support, Toronto's "weak mayor" system has meant that it's been
mostly business at usual at City Hall.
Under the system, the mayor must secure council support for
most measures. If council votes against his wishes, Ford has no
power of veto.