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Updated: Thu, 01 May 2014 17:12:38 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

With Rob Ford out, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly takes over



Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leave his home early Thursday. After maintaining for months that he is not an addict or an alcoholic, Rob Ford announced Wednesday he is seeking help for substance abuse. Canadian Press

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leave his home early Thursday. After maintaining for months that he is not an addict or an alcoholic, Rob Ford announced Wednesday he is seeking help for substance abuse. Canadian Press

Rob Ford's struggles with substance abuse amount to "a personal tragedy," Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said today in assuming the duties of the mayor, who is taking leave to seek "professional help" for his alcohol abuse.

"I have agreed to assume the responsibilities of mayor," Kelly said Thursday. "This transition is effective immediately.

"I would like to convey our best wishes to the mayor and his family as he gets the help he is seeking."

Kelly assumed many of the mayor's duties last November when council voted to strip the mayor of many of his powers, a move that came in response to Ford's controversial behaviour, and revelations of drug and alcohol abuse.

Ford announced Wednesday he is stepping away from both his role as mayor and his campaign for re-election. A two-sentence letter obtained by CBC News, in which Ford informed the city clerk of his leave, did not say when he will return. 

"I will be in contact with you regarding updates on my status," Ford wrote. 

His brother and campaign manager, Coun. Doug Ford, told CBC News on Thursday the mayor will "immediately" begin a 30-day in-patient program at "one of the best facilities in North America." 

Coun. Ford declined to provide a location but, according to reports in the Toronto media, Rob Ford flew to Chicago Thursday morning. 

His departure follows new revelations about Ford's substance abuse in two newspaper stories.

Reporters at the Globe and Mail say they've viewed a video showing Rob Ford smoking from a large pipe on Saturday.

The people who tried to sell the video to the Globe and Mail told the newspaper the substance was crack cocaine. The Toronto Sun posted audio on its website Wednesday of Ford ranting and making lewd comments in a bar.

The new recordings follow a year of scandal in which Ford has been caught on tape inebriated and making inappropriate comments.

'All kinds of counselling' 

The latest developments brought both condemnation and expressions of concern from across the political map. 

Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who was the first federal Conservative to call for Ford to step aside last November, told reporters on Parliament Hill Thursday he hopes Ford gets help.

"I hope Mr. Ford gets the support and treatment he needs for the problems he obviously has," Kenney said, adding that he still believes Ford should step aside.  

"I think he needs all kinds of counselling," Kenney added. 

In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office called Ford's behaviour "very troubling," and, closer to home, the Toronto Region Board of Trade called on him to resign. 

"The mayor of the city must put Toronto first," the board said in a statement. "It is increasingly clear that under current circumstances it is not possible for the mayor to do that.

"It is the board’s view that Mayor Ford should step down from office for the remainder of the current term. He is of course, within his rights to seek a new mandate this fall.

"We understand this matter must be very troubling to the mayor and his family, and we wish him well as he seeks professional help for his health.”

Seeking re-election

Ford is seeking re-election in a municipal campaign that will send Toronto voters to the polls on Oct. 27.

Kelly said Thursday he did not know when Ford would return, but said city business would go on as usual in his absence.

Kelly assumed many of the mayor's duties last November when council voted to strip the mayor of many of his powers, a move that came in response to Ford's controversial behaviour, and revelations of drug and alcohol abuse.

"He has taken the step that I and others have suggested for a long time," said Kelly.

Earlier Thursday, mayoralty candidates Olivia Chow and Coun. Karen Stintz both decried comments Rob Ford made in the two recordings cited in the newspaper stories. Chow and Stintz said they are glad the mayor is seeking help, but both also said he is an embarrassment who is no longer fit to serve as mayor.

Stintz said Ford's recent comments about her are "gross," and provide further evidence the city needs a new mayor.

"I am disappointed by the misogynistic language used by Rob Ford," said Stintz, referring to comments contained in an audio recording posted by the Toronto Sun.

"The only people who can remove Rob Ford from office are the people of Toronto. I have faith in the people of this city. Rob Ford is not Toronto. We need to move forward."

'It is too late' for Ford as a mayor: Chow

In the recording on the Sun website, Ford says, "I'd like to f--king jam her," in reference to Stintz.

Shortly after Stintz spoke, Chow, the former NDP MP, said Ford's move to step aside comes too late.

"It's obvious Mr. Ford is a sick man … with a serious substance abuse problem," said Chow.

"As a mayor, it is too late. He had his chance. Last year everyone said he needs to get help. He didn't do so. The time to take a leave of absence was last year."

'The mayor does not have a shred of credibility left and he hasn't for months.'- Coun. Jaye Robinson on the latest revelations about Rob Ford

Earlier Thursday, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former supporter of Ford, said the mayor's move to step aside and get help is "better late than never."

"Right now is a time to let Rob Ford heal and get the help he needs," he told reporters Thursday.

Other members of council were more blunt in their reaction.

Coun. Jaye Robinson said Ford's move to temporarily step aside does not go far enough. She said anything less than a full resignation from both the office and his re-election bid is "too little, too late."

"The mayor does not have a shred of credibility left and he hasn't for months," Robinson said on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "Our mayor is a chronic liar; we can't take it anymore. He needs to get his name off the ballot.

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