(Adds results of council vote, Ford Motor controversy)
By Cameron French
TORONTO Nov 13 Toronto City Council asked
embattled Mayor Rob Ford on Wednesday to take a break from his
job to deal with "personal issues", which he admits include both
buying illegal drugs and smoking crack cocaine.
The nonbinding vote came on a day during which both Ford's
opponents and his former allies interrogated the mayor on his
suitability to lead Canada's largest city. Ford said he won't
"I am not an addict of any sort, so I am not quite sure why
you are saying that I need help," Ford told councillors during
an hour-long grilling.
Speaking after the vote, he issued the latest in a string of
apologies, and added: "I really effed up."
Ford, elected in 2010 on a promise to end the City Hall
"gravy train", admitted last week that he had smoked crack
cocaine in "one of my drunken stupors".
He insisted on Wednesday he has zero tolerance for drugs and
gangs. But asked if he had bought illegal drugs in the past two
years, he paused for several seconds and replied somberly: "Yes,
Councillors voted 37-5 in favor of a formal, but nonbinding,
motion urging Ford to take a leave of absence, and also urged
him to apologize for "misleading" Toronto residents.
"There's no question that the residents of this city are
opposed to the mayor's behavior. I am, you are, we are,"
Councillor Karen Stintz said.
"Because of the mayor's behavior, I'm explaining to my
nine-year old what crack cocaine is. Because of my mayor I'm
explaining that it's not okay to lie and then apologize when you
Council has no power to force the mayor to step down or take
a break from his job unless he is convicted of a crime. Ford
insists he has no plans to go, or to seek treatment.
As the questions continued at council, hundreds of
protesters gathered outside City Hall, many of them calling on
Ford to step down.
An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for several TV and radio
stations showed that 76 percent of Toronto voters think Ford
should step down or take a leave of absence, while only 24
percent agreed with Ford's insistence on staying in his job.
The scandal of the crack-smoking mayor broke six months ago,
when the Toronto Star newspaper and media blog Gawker said they
had been shown a video of the mayor smoking crack, an allegation
that Ford spent six months denying.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has since confirmed the
video exists, and Ford admitted earlier this month that he had
indeed smoked crack.
The events brought back memories of the scandal that
enveloped former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry after he
was filmed smoking crack in 1990.
Ford's admission has made him the target of late night-talk
show jokes and put the international media spotlight on Toronto,
including extensive coverage of Wednesday's City Hall debate on
Asked on Wednesday if more embarrassing revelations could
come, Ford said: "As far as I know... you don't know if people
are videoing this or doing that. I don't know what's out there
right now. But everything that I'm aware of is out there."
Last week, the Star bought a separate video that showed Ford
in an expletive-laden rant, making threats to unspecified
persons and pounding his hands together. Ford apologized and
admitted he was "extremely inebriated".
But Ford may soon face more questions about his conduct. A
Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the release of more
details from a police investigation that resulted in
drug-trafficking and extortion charges against Ford's friend and
part-time driver Sandro Lisi.
A heavily redacted 474-page file released two weeks ago
showed police had had the mayor under close surveillance for
months, and had recorded evidence of numerous meetings with
Lisi. The judge ruled on Wednesday that some of the redacted
portions should be made public.
The police file includes a widely circulated photo of a
grinning Ford with three young men, one of whom was shot dead in
Toronto earlier this year. The other two have been charged in a
massive Toronto drug and guns sweep known as "Project Traveler".
Ford said on Wednesday he had not met the three men before
the photo was taken.
He also said that his lawyer had advised him not to speak to
the police about their investigations.
As if Ford's problems couldn't get worse, he also seems to
have run afoul of Ford Motor Co over shirts the mayor was
selling as part of a charity drive this week. The shirts feature
the Ford oval corporate logo and the word "nation" under it.
"Ford (Motor) did not grant permission for use of its logo.
We view it as an unauthorized use of our trademark and have
asked it to be stopped," Ford Motor Co spokesman Jay Cooney told
(Additional reporting by David Ljunggren and Louise Egan in
Ottawa, and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; Editing by Janet
Guttsman; and Peter Galloway)