Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is seen leaving city hall on Tuesday, after a day in which he admitted to having smoked crack cocaine. Chris Young/Canadian Press
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says members of city council are trying to deal with the "unprecedented, complex situation" unfolding at city hall after Mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine.
Kelly said the options for dealing with the issues have been laid out before the mayor, and Ford has decided to carry on.
"Whether that is a workable solution or not, only time will tell," Kelly said in an interview with CBC News on Wednesday.
Budget chief Frank Di Giorgio said he wasn’t sure if the mayor would respond to continued pressure from council members for him to take a leave of absence.
But Di Giorgio said that if there is a general feeling that if we push hard enough, we may in fact force him to take time off, then I think that might be worthwhile to try and do.
Also on Wednesday, the mayor saw one of his long-term staffers, Brooks Barnett, leave his office in the wake of his drug-use admission, reports the CBC’s Jamie Strashin.
Barnett had worked as a policy adviser to the mayor.
A series of staff members departed Ford's office earlier this year, after reports emerged that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine.
The mayor long denied the video’s existence and that he smokes crack cocaine, but those denials began to crumble after police said they had obtained the video and that its contents were consistent with what had been reported.
Over the weekend, Ford said he wanted the video released, and then told reporters on Tuesday that he had indeed smoked the drug.
"Yes I have smoked crack cocaine," Ford said, while suggesting that he had not misled the media in previous denials as they had not asked him "the correct questions."
Although Ford did not pin down the exact date of his crack use, he said it had probably occurred in "one of my drunken stupors, approximately about a year ago."
A few hours later, Ford spoke again to reporters, telling them about the "embarrassment" of admitting his drug use, which he said he had hidden from his family, staff and fellow council members.
But Ford said he had a job to do and he intended to carry on as mayor.
He also said he has "nothing left to hide."
Just two days before his crack-use admission, Ford apologized for "mistakes," which he said included getting "hammered" at the Taste of the Danforth street festival and letting things get out of control on St. Patrick's Day last year when he'd been drunk after hours at city hall.
Over the course of the past few months, Ford has had a difficult relationship with members of the media who have chronicled the many allegations and incidents involving the mayor.
The tension between Ford and the media was on display Wednesday, as he blew kisses through the window of his city hall office to the reporters gathered outside.
'Bloodbath' election lies ahead
Ford is three years into his four-year term as mayor. On Tuesday, he said it will be up to voters to decide if he will hang on to his job in the next election.
The mayor recently predicted that the coming election campaign will be "a bloodbath."
Until then, there are questions about how Ford will be able to lead a council that has many members calling for him to take a leave of absence or potentially step down.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong has prepared a motion that calls on the mayor to go on leave.
Minnan-Wong told reporters that Ford’s about-face on his personal crack use was "unacceptable," and he called on fellow councillors to make a firm statement to the mayor.
"This council needs to act and make a very clear statement that this action is unacceptable and we believe that it is time for the mayor to step away from city hall for a time," Minnan-Wong said.
Coun. John Parker said that Minnan-Wong’s motion won’t “resolve the situation” involving the mayor.
Parker said that life at city hall moves forward, despite distractions involving the mayor.
"The work of the city hall goes on, the work of council goes on, the work of committees goes on, the work of city staff goes on," Parker told reporters Wednesday.
Coun. James Pasternak said he hoped it would be possible for the mayor to make a "dignified exit" in the days ahead, for which he is calling on the deputy mayor to help make happen.
"That’s what many councillors are talking about behind closed doors," he said.
Coun. Jaye Robinson, who favours seeing the mayor take a leave of absence, is doubtful that Ford will yield to the pressure.
"I think that he is strong-minded, he always has been and I am not sure that’s ever going to change," said Robinson, who previously sat on Ford’s executive committee.
Coun. Karen Stintz, who has declared her intention to run for mayor in next year’s election, said that Ford isn’t going away, which means councillors have to focus on city business.
"We have all that we need to do at council to pass our agenda, to pass our budgets, and I think really what we really need to do is bring calm to the city," Stintz said.
Kids talking about crack scandal
Stintz said the drug-related scandal surrounding the mayor is something that even the students at her children’s school are talking about.
"The topic of the schoolyard for my children is crack cocaine, and I think it’s very disappointing that it has come to this," she said.
Another councillor, Mary-Margaret McMahon, spoke to reporters alongside her own daughter, who was at city hall for an annual event in which Ontario Grade 9 students accompany their parents to work.
"You heard the admission yesterday and there is no reason [for Ford] to be here as the leader of the city," said McMahon, who called for the mayor to "step down immediately."
The councillor’s daughter also said the mayor should step down, citing the distractions he was causing for the city.
It wasn’t just councillors chiming in on the situation involving the mayor at city hall on Wednesday.
A man in a red sweatshirt, who identified himself as Tajinder Bains, gave a fiery defence of so-called Ford Nation to media gathered outside the mayor’s office on Wednesday.
Bains refuted the idea that in the face of the scandals surrounding the mayor that Ford Nation was dead.
"Ford Nation is every single mother out there who is having a hard time paying their bills, every senior citizen who can’t afford groceries because inflation is too high. Every dad working two jobs to put his kids through a good school," he said.
"That’s who Ford Nation is and you’re saying you’re going to get rid of them? I doubt that, pal. I doubt that."
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