Mayor Rob Ford apologizes for lewd language, says he's getting support
Published Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:38AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, November 14, 2013 10:04PM EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has apologized for using lewd language on live television in his denial of allegations made to police in recently released court documents.
- WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Rob Ford stuns with comments
- Rob Ford and Coun. Janet Davis face off in council
- "I might have had some drinks and driven"
Ford said allegations of cocaine use and prostitution that came to light Wednesday "pushed him over the edge."
"I used unforgivable language and again I apologize," he said Thursday in a hastily called news conference.
Ford's wife, Renata, who has remained out of the spotlight as the mayor's troubles have escalated, stood at his side as he spoke.
Ford added he is receiving support "from a team of health care professionals" but refused to elaborate.
"I wish you to understand I am accepting responsibility for the challenges I face. I ask you to please, please respect my family's privacy," he added, before taking his wife through the throng of cameras and reporters to reach an elevator.
When asked by CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman whether her husband should resign, Renata Ford responded no. That's what elections are for, she said.
Earlier in the morning, the mayor stunned reporters while refuting allegations made public in police documents Wednesday.
"Oh, and the last thing was (former staff member) Olivia Gondek. It says that I wanted to eat her p****. I've never said that in my life to her; I would never do that. I'm happily married, I've got more than enough to eat at home. Thanks very much," the mayor said before turning away from reporters.
Ford had been telling city hall reporters that he planned to take legal action against several former staff members, saying the allegations made to police were "outright lies."
"Unfortunately, I have to take legal action against Isaac Ransom and George Christopoulos and Mark Towhey. I have to take legal action against the waiter who was saying I was doing lines at the Bier Markt. That is outright lies. That is not true," he said.
He said he "can't put up with it anymore" and that he had other choice but to begin proceedings to sue.
According to the court documents released Wednesday, Ford staffers told police they had heard reports of the mayor engaging in several incidents of questionable behaviour, including drunk driving and sniffing cocaine. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Ford also refuted allegations he took escorts to his city hall office. He told reporters the women were not sex workers but personal friends and that the remarks had hurt his wife.
As he spoke, Ford was wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey, in apparent support of city’s team competing for the CFL Eastern Conference title this weekend.
Within hours of Ford’s appearance, the team issued a statement to say that it was "disappointing" to see him making such remarks while wearing their jersey, and "particularly disappointing" given the organization's work to help youth deal with bullying issues.
Driving after drinking admission
Also Thursday, Ford addressed reporters again and admitted to drinking and driving.
“I might have had some drinks and driven, which is absolutely wrong. But outside of that, I've said what I have to say…" he said, his voice trailing off as reporters demanded to know how he could still be mayor after admitting to drinking and driving.
"You know what, I'm not perfect... Maybe you are, but I'm not," he responded. "And I know that none of you guys have ever, ever, had a drink and got behind the wheel. I know that."
Shortly afterward, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair was asked by reporters why police didn't act if they knew Ford had been drinking and driving.
"I'm not going to comment on any aspect of our investigation," Blair responded. "We have investigators that are responsible for that and when we get evidence, that evidence is placed before the court."
When Ford entered council meetings later in the morning, Councillor Janet Davis stood to say she had heard on the radio the remarks that Ford had made regarding Gondek and called them "repugnant" and "distasteful." She then asked fellow councillors to stand up with her to express their outrage. Several councillors then rose from their seats.
After they sat back down, Ford rose to say that he would not be apologizing.
He repeated that he was "not going to put up" with former staffers making allegations about drug use and sexual advances and that it was hurting his wife.
"Enough is enough, guys, okay? So if you were offended, I'm not apologizing because put yourself in my shoes if someone said that about your husband or your wife, okay?" Ford said.
On Wednesday, city council overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion asking Ford to take a leave of absence. The motion was non-binding and Ford said he planned to ignore it.
Toronto city council is expected to hold two special meetings Friday, during which councillors will try to transfer some of Ford’s mayoral powers to the deputy mayor, Norm Kelly.
In one meeting, they will debate whether to strip Ford of his power to fire either the deputy mayor or the chairs of council’s committees; the other will debate whether to take away his power to govern without seeking council approvals during emergencies.
Municipal law expert John Mascarin says the motion to limit Ford's ability to hire and fire his executive committee would have a direct impact on how the mayor is able to carry out his duties.
"If they strip him of that, he may not have a friendly cabinet and he may not be able to move forward with his agenda," he told CTV News Channel.
Meanwhile, school trips to Toronto city hall have been cancelled due to what staff referred to as “safety concerns.”