(Adds comments from Mayor Ford and brother)
By Julie Gordon and Allison Martell
TORONTO May 30 Toronto Mayor Rob Ford lost two
more staff members on Thursday, two weeks after allegations
first surfaced that the leader of Canada's largest city was
caught smoking crack cocaine on camera, something he has
Security ushered policy advisor Brian Johnston out of city
hall around midday on Thursday, and he told reporters he had
resigned. Kia Nejatian, the mayor's executive assistant, also
left his job, the city confirmed in a statement sent to local
The 44-year-old mayor, who hails from a conservative
political family and was elected to lead Toronto in 2010, has
lost five staffers in seven days, including his chief of staff,
who was fired, and his press secretary.
A defiant Ford told a crush of reporters gathered outside
his office that "everything is going fine," said he was bringing
in new staff and vowed to weather the political storm.
"I'm not stepping aside," Ford said. "I'm running in the
next election, and if the great people of this city want to go
in a different direction that's what their prerogative is, but I
guarantee, my name will be on the ballot."
He repeatedly refused to answer questions on Thursday about
the alleged video, shrugging them off with a refrain of
U.S. media outlet Gawker and the Toronto Star both reported
on May 16 that their reporters had seen a cellphone video that
appears to show Ford using crack cocaine. Ford has repeatedly
denied the allegations.
Reuters cannot confirm the existence of the video or its
Separately, Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne told
reporters that the Canadian province's government was monitoring
the situation and could get involved, if appropriate.
"As a citizen and as premier of the province, I'm concerned
that things are not as they should be at city hall," she said.
"It's hard to imagine that it could be business as usual."
The comments, unusual coming from a sitting provincial
leader, prompted a sharp response from Ford's older brother, who
is a Toronto city councillor.
"Get your house in order before you have the nerve to say
anything about the mayor," Doug Ford told reporters at city
hall. "We have this city in great financial shape. It's in
better shape than what we inherited."
Rob Ford has sparred with Wynne's office over how to fund a
massive regional transit expansion, stating that a sales tax
hike and gas levy would hurt "hardworking families" in Ontario.
Wynne leads a Liberal minority government that requires some
opposition support to pass legislation.
Toronto's "weak mayor" political system already limits the
executive's influence and puts more power in the hands of the
Mayor Ford has enjoyed a hard core of support from a segment
of Toronto voters, particularly in the suburbs, who lifted him
to power on a platform of controlling spending and cutting
taxes, along the lines of the populist Tea Party movement in the
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Paul Simao)