Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds back his emotions while speaking during an invite-only press conference at City Hall in Toronto on Monday, June 30, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he's sorry for some of the things he did when using drugs and alcohol, but he's resolved to make changes in his life following a stint in rehab.
"When I look back on some of the things I have said and some of the things I did when I was using, I am ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated," Ford told reporters at an invitation-only news conference Monday, when he returned to city hall after a two-month absence.
Ford had taken a leave of absence to seek help for substance abuse.
Today, the mayor said that he had been in "complete denial" about his struggle with drugs and alcohol and the toll it was taking on his life.
"I had become my own worst enemy," he said.
The mayor said he was accepting responsibility for the things he had done in the past.
"I was wrong and I have no one, but no one, to blame but myself," Ford added, before making an apology to "every single person who was hurt by my words and my actions."
Forced to confront 'personal demons'
Ford spoke about his time at the GreeneStone Residential Addiction Facility, in Bala, Ont.
"I worked with a professional team of dedicated doctors, nurses, counsellors and the best trainer anyone could ask for," Ford said. "I underwent hundreds of hours of intensive therapy. I now know, I now know that the staff at GreeneStone saved my life."
Ford said that he was forced to confront his "personal demons" and to learn about the factors that contribute to addiction.
"I learned that my addiction is really a disease, a chronic medical condition that will require treatment for the rest of my life," he said.
Near the end of his remarks, Ford talked about his resolve to win back the trust of Torontonians and to continue his work at city hall.
"I look forward to serving you for many, many more years," said Ford, also defending his record over the past four years.
The mayor did not take questions from reporters after making his remarks on Monday afternoon.
Ford arrived at city hall about 90 minutes before making his remarks, but did not speak to media camped outside his office.
At about 5:45 p.m., Ford left his office and again ignored reporters' questions as he made his exit.
Denials before treatment decision
When stories first emerged last year that someone was trying to sell a video that showed the mayor using crack cocaine, Ford denied both using the drug and the existence of the recording.
The story was picked up around the world. Ford was frequently mocked by comedians on late-night television.
Months later, police announced that they had recovered a video file that was consistent with what the media had reported. Within days, Ford admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine, an event he believed had occurred while in one of his "drunken stupors."
His trip to rehab did not come for another six months after that, as Ford ignored calls to step down and made further apologies as other videos emerged showing him acting strangely.
Ford, who turned 45 last month while in rehab, is seeking re-election in the municipal election this fall.
The Oct. 27 election is now less than four months away. Ford is facing dozens of opponents who have registered for the mayoral race.
Ford was elected as mayor in the fall of 2010. His successful bid to become the city's chief magistrate came after he spent a decade as a city councillor.
The 'circus' returns
Earlier in the day, colleagues on council were fielding questions about what they wanted to see from the mayor as he returns to his job at city hall.
"What I would like to hear from him politically is that he is going to keep the kind of wedge politics on the campaign trail and not bring them back into council, which has been functioning very well over the last several months," said Coun. John Filion.
"On a personal level, I just wish him the best and hope he stays on the straight and narrow."
Coun. Pam McConnell predicted that council will carry on with its work, just as it did when Ford was away.
"I'm sorry that the circus is back in town, but that's just the way it is," she said.
Coun. John Parker pointed to the fact that Ford, his work and his life at city hall have become a curiosity for people around the world.
"I think what he has to realize is that quite literally, the whole world is watching," Parker said.
Now that Ford is returning, Parker said he "must understand what is expected of him at this point."