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Updated: Tue, 19 Nov 2013 11:29:21 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Rob Ford says he's quit drinking, has had 'come-to-Jesus' moment



Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wipes his brow in the council chamber as councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers on Monday November 18, 2013. Chris Young/Canadian Press

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wipes his brow in the council chamber as councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers on Monday November 18, 2013. Chris Young/Canadian Press

In an interview with CBC News on Monday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he's had a kind of "come-to-Jesus" moment and said he's "finished" with alcohol and doesn't do drugs.

Ford made the comments in an interview with CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge shortly after council voted overwhelmingly to slash his office budget and strip him of powers in the wake of a drug-use scandal.

The interview, done with his brother Coun. Doug Ford at his side, capped a frantic few weeks for Toronto's mayor, who two weeks earlier admitted to using crack cocaine while in office.

Ford told Mansbridge he used crack "about a year ago" and said he hasn't used the drug since. Ford also said he hasn't consumed alcohol for three weeks and plans to never drink again.

"There's a lot of people who have done what I've done," Ford told Mansbridge. "I’m a human being, Peter."

Stripped of his powers

Hours earlier, council voted overwhelmingly to move much of Ford's budget over to deputy mayor Norm Kelly. That, combined with motions passed on Friday, leave Ford with essentially the powers of a city councillor.

- VIDEO: Rob Ford knocks over city councillor

Ford admitted he smoked crack days after court documents revealed that he had been under police surveillance since mid-June, when the Toronto Star and Gawker reported their journalists had viewed a video that appears to show the mayor smoking crack.

The video has yet to surface but police have confirmed they have a video consistent with what the Star and Gawker reported.

Since then, Toronto city hall has faced unprecedented media coverage, with the release of a video that shows Ford behaving erratically and frequent public apologies from the mayor for his behaviour. Ford has also had to apologize about lewd comments made about a former staffer. Meanwhile, Ford has resisted increasing calls to step aside, spurring a council revolt that has cut across political lines.

Ford was clearly angry about the council rebuke during Monday's interview, which he said will leave him struggling to do his job and will cut his staff from about 19 people to eight.

"They gave me 25 per cent of what [previous mayor] David Miller had," said Ford. "I return thousands of calls. I can't function as mayor of Toronto with eight people in my office. They stripped me of everything I had, all because of personal problems."

Mansbridge asked Ford about his health. Many on council have said they believe Ford is suffering from alcoholism, substance abuse and other health issues that limit his ability to do his job. Ford downplayed suggestions that he is ill, and said his main focus is losing weight.

'I'm not a drug addict, I am not an alcoholic'

"I've drank in excess a few times and admitted to drug use," he said. "I'm not a drug addict and I'm not an alcoholic. I'm getting punished for the Friday and Saturday nights when I've decided to have a few drinks. This is personal."

Doug Ford also said weight is his brother's main problem.

"Rob is changing his life. He is working out every single day and he's on a strict diet."

Mansbridge asked Ford if he's been drunk while driving. Ford told Mansbridge he hasn't driven while drunk but may have driven after moderate drinking.

"All of us have done this," said Ford. "Whoever has a licence. You've gone to a dinner party or a restaurant with your wife and had a glass of wine. Do you drive? Absolutely you drive. I've never been drunk and driven."

Ford answered "no" when Mansbridge asked if the mayor did crack more than once during his time as mayor. Ford described his crack use as "an isolated incident" that happened more than a year ago.

Ford said he was "probably pretty inebriated" when the video was shot of him doing crack cocaine.

"You know what happens when you get to a certain point, when you're very inebriated. You might remember this, you might not remember that. There's blackout period I think we've all gone through. Some people are perfect. I'm not."

Ford also said he's purchased marijuana during his time as mayor.

"There's two types of people: poor people and rich people and I side with the poor people," said Ford. "I've been honest and I'm being punished for it."

Ford touted his record repeatedly during the interview, saying he's kept a lid on spending at city hall.

"There's not one time you'll ever find me stealing a dime of the taxpayer's money ever," he said.

Ford said he is getting help for "his personal issues," but did not get specific when Mansbridge asked for details.

"I'm training every day. I haven't touched a drop of alcohol in three weeks."

Doesn't answer questions about Lisi

Mansbridge also asked Ford about the police investigation. Ford's friend and occasional driver Alexander (Sandro) Lisi is facing extortion charges for what police say are his efforts to get the tape. Ford said his lawyer has told him not to speak to the police. Ford also wouldn't answer any questions about Lisi and his role in the mayor's office.

"My lawyer has advised me: do not be interviewed by police," he said.

Doug Ford, who's been his brother's fiercest defender during the scandal, said Monday's vote is an affront to the voters who elected his brother.

"This is the worst thing that's ever happened to democracy in Canada," said Doug Ford. "It's an overthrow because of personal issues. It's up to the people to decide, not city councillors."

Rob Ford agreed and said many on council are angry that he's ending the "gravy train." He also said many on council have their eyes on the mayor's job.

"I've let a lot of people down," he said. Ford also said he will seek re-election next October and will do away with "excessive, stupid, immature behaviour."

"If you don't see a difference in me in five months, then I'll eat my words," he said. "I've had a come-to-Jesus moment if you want to call it that. I've let my dad down, I know he's upstairs watching this."

Doug Ford also said his brother is capable of change.

"Everyone needs a second chance," he said of his brother. "Rob will be the champion of second chances. He's on the right track right now."

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