Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted Tuesday that he has smoked crack cocaine. CBC
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted today he has smoked crack cocaine, saying it was probably "in one of my drunken stupors" about a year ago.
Ford made the shocking statement Tuesday at Toronto City Hall in a scrum with reporters.
“Yes I have smoked crack cocaine,” Ford said.
“But, no — do I? Am I an addict, no? Have I tried it? Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”
The mayor suggested that he hadn’t been lying when reporters previously asked him about the tape.
“So, I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions,” Ford said.
“No I’m not an addict and no, I do not do drugs. I made mistakes in the past and all I can do is apologize, but it is what it is and I can’t change the past.”
"Yes, I've made mistakes, all I can do now is apologize and move on," the mayor said. "I can apologize to my family, my friends, my colleagues and the people of this great city."
Ford colleagues react
Ford's admission drew immediate response from colleagues at city hall. Many are calling for the mayor to step aside to sort out his personal issues.
Coun. Jaye Robinson said that now, Ford does not have even “a shred of credibility,” and she wants to see him take a leave of absence.
"The real issue is getting the mayor to address his health issues, step aside [and] take a leave of absence, as I’ve been saying for six long months," said Robinson. "And now he’s coming forward and he’s admitting that there is clearly a problem here."
Robinson was previously a member of the mayor’s executive committee, though she was ousted from her position as the chair of the community and recreation development committee after she urged Ford to take a leave of absence.
Kristyn Wong-Tam, a left-leaning councillor, said the admission undercuts Ford's image as a politician that represents the middle-class voter.
"Mayor Ford claims to represent the 'little guy,'' Wong Tam said in a tweet. "The 'little guy' and your Average Joe as far as I know do not smoke crack cocaine.
The same day that Ford admitted to using crack cocaine, news broke that councillors have prepared at least two separate motions related to his behaviour.
One motion from Coun. John Filion seeks to strip the mayor of his ability to hire or fire the deputy mayor, or any of the standing committee chairs.
A second motion from Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong calls on the mayor to apologize, co-operate with police in their ongoing investigation and to take a temporary leave of absence.
"I think it’s time for him to take a break," Minnan-Wong said when speaking with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, about an hour after the mayor admitted to having smoked crack cocaine.
Other councillors tweeted their reaction:
Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday that she had heard the mayor’s admission, but left it to the police and the judicial system to "take action."
When speaking with reporters, Wynne said that what has been going at city hall "is of great concern to everyone in the City of Toronto."
It was unclear Tuesday how Ford's sudden, apparently impromptu admission of prior drug use will affect his future as Toronto's mayor. There is no legal mechanism to remove him from office for using drugs.
Last week, Toronto's police chief said authorities had recovered a video of the mayor with images that corresponded with media reports about him appearing to smoke crack cocaine and making racial slurs.
Ford repeated a call for the tape to be released on Tuesday.
"I don't even recall there being a tape or a video and I know that. So I want to see the state that I was in. I wasn't lying," he told reporters.
Ford's admission comes after months of speculation that began in May of this year when reports surfaced that a video exists that shows the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
Ford, 44, was elected as the mayor of Toronto three years ago. He still has another year to go in his current term. The mayor has said he intends to run for a second term.
Mayor's previous denials
During his time as mayor, Ford has consistently drawn headlines both for his work at city hall and his life outside of it.
Earlier this year, the Toronto Star and the U.S. gossip website Gawker each reported that someone had been shopping a video of the mayor using crack cocaine.
Ford had denied both the video’s existence and using crack cocaine.
Alongside with questions about his drug use, Ford has also faced questions about the people he associates with in his private life.
Toronto police undertook an investigation into allegations regarding the video, which involved following the mayor and other individuals. Ground and aerial surveillance was used.
That investigation saw police charge Alexander Lisi, also known as Sandro or Alessandro, with extortion.
Ford has said that Lisi, who has served as an occasional driver for the mayor, is a friend.
The drug controversy is not the only high-profile challenge Ford has faced in office.
He faced a conflict-of-interest challenge that saw a judge order him removed from office, but he ended up winning an appeal and hanging onto his job.
Ford also faced a defamation lawsuit that was eventually dismissed.
Recently, Ford faced criticism for writing reference letters for Lisi, who also faces drug charges and has been convicted of threatening to kill his girlfriend, as well as for a tow truck driver who is a convicted murderer.
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