Doug and Rob Ford speak with CBC's Peter Mansbridge. CBC
In the midst of a campaign by his fellow city councillors to strip him of the bulk of his mayoral powers, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford took to radio and television to drive home his message this week, speaking to several U.S. networks and with CBC's Peter Mansbridge.
While much of what he told CBC's chief correspondent was in one way or another a reiteration of what he said in the past, there were several points that seemed to raise more questions than answers.
1.Drugs: Ford repeated his mantra that he is not a drug addict and said the last time he did drugs was "a year ago some time." When asked whether the last time he did drugs was on the occasion that was captured in the notorious video that reportedly shows him smoking crack cocaine, the mayor said "Yes. I don't know exactly when it was but probably about a year ago."
When asked if he has used cocaine while mayor, Ford initially answered, "Yes. I admitted that," but then seemed to imply that his use of that particular drug took place when he was younger and experimenting with drugs. When asked by Mansbridge again, "Never cocaine while you've been mayor?" He answered, "No."
2.Alcohol: The mayor surprised many when he said in the interview that he is "finished" with drinking. He told Mansbridge he hasn't "touched a drop of alcohol in three weeks." When asked whether he is done with alcohol and will never drink again, he answered, "Finished. I've had a come to Jesus moment if you want to call it that."
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This may seem like a stunning statement coming as it does after several weeks of media coverage detailing numerous incidents of excessive drinking involving the mayor and quoting police documents in which Fords former staffers describe regularly buying alcohol for the mayor and seeing him drink to excess.
3. Drinking and driving: Ford denied driving while drunk and implied his behaviour was no different than that of any person who has a drink or two while socializing
"All of us have done this — whoever has a [driver's] licence — you go out to a dinner party, you go out to a restaurant with your wife, you have a glass of wine. Do you drive? Absolutely, you drive."
This seems to clash with some of the details of his past behaviour as described by former members of his staff, who according to court documents released last week told police they had concerns about his tendency to drink and drive and described one occasion in which the mayor guzzled a bottle of vodka while behind the wheel of his car. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
It also contradicts statements Ford made last week, in which he told reporters he might have had "some drinks" and driven in the past, and added "which is absolutely wrong."
His comments to Mansbridge might be controversial among some members of the public who consider any consumption of alcohol before driving off limits and definitely among advocates against drunk driving such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which had already expressed dismay at some of Ford's comments with regards to alcohol and driving.
4.Drugs and alcohol on the job: While admitting that he has used crack and marijuana while mayor, Ford seemed to imply that the drug and alcohol use he has admitted to took place while he was off duty. "I've shown up to work every day for the last 13 years straight as an arrow," he told Mansbridge. "Have I had some fun time on the weekends? Yes, I have, and I think everyone has and I'm human. I made a mistake. I'm getting punished for my Friday or Saturday night that I decided to have a few drinks."
When Mansbridge asked if Ford had ever been on drugs while "in this office," Ford answered unequivocally, "Never."
5.Turning point: According to the mayor's brother, Doug, who was present for the Mansbridge interview, the turning point that ultimately convinced Rob Ford to change his behaviour was not the police's revelation that they had found the crack video that matched the one media had reported on months earlier, or the revelation that the mayor was the subject of a police investigation, or the release of court documents detailing staffers' accounts of the mayor's behaviour, or the exhortations of his fellow city councillors who urged him to resign, or the barrage of critical media coverage urging the same. Rather, it was the emotional reaction on Nov. 7 to Ford's plight from federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a friend of the Ford family.
"He called me after he saw Jim and said, 'I'm changing my life.' This is a man who went out there for us, supported us," Doug Ford said.
Rob Ford himself spoke more broadly about what drove him to vow to change some aspects of his behaviour.
"Just the humiliation and the belittling and the people I've let down and it's all because of alcohol, excessive, stupid, immature behaviour, and that’s it," he told Mansbridge.
6.Professional help: Ford has been asked repeatedly whether he is seeking professional help for his drug and alcohol problems and has been evasive when it comes to specifying what kind of help he has sought.
On Monday, he told Mansbridge he is "dealing with professionals."
"I'm dealing with my health issues," he said, specifying that those issues include his "excessive drinking at times," his health and his weight but not drugs.
"I don't do drugs," he said by way of explanation.
He said he is doing fitness training every day and vowed to lose 30 pounds in five months. His past weight loss campaign saw the mayor shed 17 pounds in five months after vowing to lose 50 pounds in what was dubbed the "Cut the Waist" challenge.