Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has addressed a video the Star has published on its website today. Chris Young/Canadian Press
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has expressed embarrassment over the surfacing of a bizarre video that shows him ranting and swearing, the latest surprising event to involve the chief magistrate during a week in which he also admitted to having smoked crack cocaine.
Both the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun published videos on their respective websites on Thursday, which appeared to have overlapping portions of an unexplained occasion in which the mayor was recorded.
The context of the video and the target of Ford's rants are unknown.
At one point during the video, Ford can be heard talking about wanting "to kill" someone.
"I’m going to kill that f---ing guy," he can be heard saying.
"I'm telling you, it's first-degree murder," Ford rants.
"I'll fight him. No holds barred, brother. He dies or I die, brother."
There is also a confusing reference to "birds," which seems to upset the mayor.
"My brothers are — don't tell me we're liars, thieves. Birds?" Ford says. "It hurts."
Shortly after 12:30 p.m. ET, Ford stepped out of his office at city hall and addressed the video that appeared on the Star's website.
"Obviously, I was extremely, extremely inebriated," Ford said, calling it "embarrassing." The mayor also made reference to having made some "mistakes."
He did not clarify any details of the video made public by the Star. Ford did not mention the video the Sun published.
The Star said it purchased the video for $5,000. A report posted on its website Thursday said that the newspaper purchased it "from a source who filmed the video from someone else’s computer."
The Sun said that it did not purchase the video posted on its site, which contained a pair of clips that were shorter in length than the video the Star published online.
A source who has spoken to the mayor told the CBC’s Jamie Strashin that the video was likely recorded in February or March of this year.
Video 'disturbing,' councillors say
Coun. James Pasternak commented on the video about an hour after it was posted.
"It's very disturbing, very upsetting," he said. "It's conduct unbecoming a chief magistrate. The behaviour in the video, the language, is profoundly disappointing, profoundly disturbing."
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he wants to know more about the video, which he said lacks context, before commenting about it.
"I don't know who he's talking about," said Kelly. "I don't know the context. People act differently in private than they do in public. He's obviously agitated. I don't know why."
Coun. Paula Fletcher said that both the video and the continuing stories about the mayor are "disturbing."
Fletcher said that Ford needs to step aside, admit he has a problem and seek help.
"I hope his family is encouraging that, I hope his mother is doing that. I know the deputy mayor is doing that and the councillors are doing that," she said.
"I don’t want tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow to bring on more revelations. It’s a very unprecedented situation."
But Ford's lawyer Dennis Morris called the context of the video "skeletal."
"Was it taken eight, 10 months ago or a short time ago?" Morris said. "I'm going to try to find that out too."
On Thursday afternoon, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said that the newly released video was not part of a recent police investigation.
In the case of the new video, Blair said he became aware of it "when it was released in the news today and again I’m not going to make any comment."
In Quebec, Montreal mayor-elect Denis Coderre was asked what advice he had for Ford.
"Try Diet Coke," Coderre said.
Mayor under scrutiny for months
The newly published video came out just two days after Ford admitted to having smoked crack cocaine and four days after he acknowledged making "mistakes," some of which were alcohol-related.
When Ford admitted to having smoked crack cocaine on Tuesday, he told reporters he had "nothing left to hide."
Ford had been under intense scrutiny for months after reports emerged that someone had been shopping a video — not related to the one posted Thursday — that appeared to show the mayor smoking a crack pipe.
The mayor long denied the alleged crack video’s existence, though police recently said they had obtained a video file that was consistent with what the media had reported. Ford has since called for that video to be released.
He is now under increasing pressure from fellow council members to take a leave of absence, though Ford has so far said he intends to carry on at city hall.
At least one councillor was calling for his outright resignation on Thursday:
Coun. John Parker said the video was just the latest in a series of distractions for the mayor.
"It’s just one story after another, but the pattern is well-established," Parker said Thursday.
But he said that the work at city hall continues no matter what is going on with the mayor.
Coun. John Filion said that Ford needs to step aside and return to work, if and when he is able to deal with his personal issues.
One of the mayor's most ardent supporters, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, also urged Ford in a statement to go to rehab.
"I have grown more concerned and fear for his health now more than ever," Mammoliti said.
"If it is in their power, the mayor's family needs to intervene and attempt to get him to a drug rehabilitation centre."
But the councillor said that he believes the mayor will resist efforts to try to pressure him into doing so.
"The more that people line up to try to push him to do that, the more counterproductive it is and the less likely it is to happen," he told CBC News Network in a telephone interview.
"Rob Ford is not somebody who would allow himself to be shoved aside, it just goes against his core."
Family members defend mayor
Ford's mother and sister came out in defence of the mayor on Thursday in an interview with a local Toronto television station.
The mayor's mother, Diane, said her son's conduct was clearly out of line.
"It's not acceptable behaviour. He is the mayor of the city, and he knows that better than anyone," she told CP24.
"But to err is human; to forgive is divine. And we all err, but here there is no forgiveness [from the media]."
Ford's older sister, Kathy, said she did not believe her brother was addicted to drugs or alcohol.
"Robbie is not a drug addict. I know because I'm a former addict," she said, adding that she believes her brother rarely drinks — but overindulges when he does.
As for how Ford could move forward, Diane said she had outlined a five-step plan to get her son on the road to recovery.
Ford matriarch's 5-step recovery plan
"Get yourself a driver. Then after that, you do something about your weight," she said, adding that "an alcohol detector" in the car could be another potential solution.
"That will prove you can't drive the car if you're drinking," she reasoned.
Diane Ford went on to say she had spoken to her son about surrounding himself with different company.
"And yes — see a counsellor," she added. "Do get help. For anything. So you can go to a psychologist and just get help, and they will help you through any problem that you've got."
Ford, a 44-year-old father of two young children, has served as the mayor of Toronto for the past three years. He has constantly made headlines during his tenure both for his work at city hall and his life outside of it.
Everything from his personal driving habits to the amount of time he has devoted to coaching high school football has been covered closely by the media.
Last year, Ford faced a conflict-of-interest challenge that resulted in a judge ordering him removed from office. But that ruling was overturned on appeal and the mayor held onto his job.
Ford also faced a defamation lawsuit that was dismissed in court.
Before he was elected mayor, Ford served as a city councillor for a ward in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke.