Ford says he will remain as mayor following crack admission
Published Tuesday, November 5, 2013 12:23PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 5, 2013 6:18PM EST
Rob Ford says he will stay on as mayor of Toronto following a shocking admission that he smoked crack cocaine while in office.
"I love my job, I love this city, I love saving taxpayers money and I love being your mayor. There is important work that must be done and important decisions that must be made," Ford said during a news conference late Tuesday afternoon. "For the sake of the taxpayers of this great city we must get back to work immediately. We must keep Toronto moving forward. I was elected to do a job and that is exactly what I am going to continue doing."
Reading from a prepared statement, Ford said that admitting that he has used crack cocaine in the past was “the most difficult and embarrassing thing” he has ever done and that he has “nothing left to hide.”
Ford did not take any questions during the brief news conference, which followed a surprise admission outside his office earlier Tuesday.
“I kept this from my family, especially my brother Doug, my staff and my council colleagues because I was embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “To the residents of Toronto I know I have let you down and I can’t do anything else but apologize. I am so sorry.”
Though Ford did not provide any indication on specific measures he will take to avoid using illicit substances going forward, he did promise that there will not be a repeat incident.
"These mistakes will never ever, ever happen again," he said.
As he wrapped up the news conference Ford reiterated his intention to run for re-election next October, saying he wanted the people to decide whether he is fit for office given the stunning news.
“On Oct. 27 of 2014 I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor,” he said. “Again I sincerely, sincerely, sincerely apologize.”
Councillors call for Ford to step aside
Councillors have been calling for Ford to step aside in the wake of his admission, but if the mayor chooses to remain at city hall there is likely little that can be done to remove him from office.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong is preparing a motion calling on Ford to take a leave of absence and cooperate with an ongoing police investigation, but the move is mostly ceremonial as council does not have the legal jurisdiction to remove the mayor.
“The reality is council can do nothing,” Coun. Karen Stintz told reporters following Ford’s announcement. “If the mayor chooses to remain in his chair we will continue to do the business of the city. We will pass our budgets, we will deal with the Gardiner, we will grapple with the airport and we will continue to conduct the business of this city as the residents of this city expect us to do. There is no question that a void has been created by this admission and this announcement and we will work to fill that void.”
“The issue now in front of us is how do the 43 of us on council deal with this?” added Coun. Adam Vaughan. “I don’t think he (Ford) has the capacity to govern let alone the integrity to govern, but as a councillor I can’t get rid of him.”
Though council can’t remove Ford as mayor, there may be a way to negate his powers.
One motion prepared by Coun. John Filion and distributed to reporters Tuesday aims to prevent the mayor from removing his deputy mayor or other committee members from their positions.
If approved, the motion would provide council with the power to select a new deputy mayor should current Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly resign. In the event of any resignation by chairs of any city committee, the motion would give the power of selecting a new chair to the affected committee instead of the mayor.
"The motion is going forward and I may or may not try to move it up (to next week's council meeting)," Filion said following Ford's announcement.
Statement followed surprise announcement
Ford for the first time confirmed that he had used crack cocaine after coaxing reporters to again ask him the question earlier Tuesday morning.
“Yes I have smoked crack cocaine but am I an addict? No,” Ford said. “Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors approximately a year ago. All I can do now is apologize and move on.”
Ford had been under renewed scrutiny after Police Chief Bill Blair announced last Thursday that police recovered a video that reportedly shows the mayor smoking from a glass pipe.
Ford has repeatedly denied that he is an addict of crack cocaine, but on Tuesday he stressed that he never denied smoking the drug.
“I wasn’t lying,” he said. “You didn’t ask the correct questions.”
Ford initially denied the existence of the video when the Toronto Star and Gawker first reported about its existence in May.
Speaking with reporters outside his office Tuesday, Ford repeated his calls for the release of the video.
“I don’t even recall there being a tape or a video, so I want to see the state that I was in,” he said.
Ford concluded his brief news conference by apologizing to his friends, his family and the people of Toronto.
Wynne says she finds situation "concerning"
Premier Kathleen Wynne has previously avoided commenting on Ford’s alleged drug use, but on Tuesday she said she found the whole situation “concerning.”
“My concern is that what is happening at city hall makes it very difficult for the business of city hall to carry on in a normal way,” she said. “That is my biggest concern as a citizen of the city and as a premier. We want municipalities to be able to function and there is a huge amount of turmoil at city hall right now and that is a concern.”
At Queen’s Park, former deputy mayor turned MPP Doug Holyday urged Ford to seek help in an interview with CTV News.
“Well I am saddened, but it is a problem I guess that many families have gone through,” he said. “You have to seek help when that situation arises and I think that he should seek help.”
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