Rob Ford says he's taking leave of absence to get 'immediate help' for substance abuse
Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014 9:00PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 1, 2014 5:32AM EDT
Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he will take a leave of absence to seek “immediate help,” as reports emerged about his alleged drug and alcohol use.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Ford said he has “a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence.”
“Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as mayor to seek immediate help,” he said.
“I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.”
The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday night that two of its reporters have seen a video that appears to show Ford smoking from a pipe. The video was allegedly shot in Ford’s sister’s basement early Saturday morning.
A screen grab of the video posted on the Globe’s website shows Ford holding a pipe.
The Toronto Sun, meanwhile, obtained what it says is an audio recording of Ford making lewd comments about another mayoral candidate, Karen Stintz.
CTV News has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video image or the audio recording.
Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington told CP24 Wednesday that the audio recording of Ford was captured at a bar Monday night.
In the recording, a man who sounds like Ford is heard talking to several people about provincial politics, and his rivals in the mayoral race, Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz. The man is also heard complaining about his wife and, at one point, saying: “I’m not the normal mayor.”
A spokesperson for Stintz said the comments “are deeply offensive to everyone living in Toronto.”
The news that Ford will take a leave of absence comes more than five months after he admitted to smoking crack cocaine. Ford told reporters last November that he smoked crack “in one of my drunken stupors.”
Since the admission, Ford’s critics – and some of his allies – have been urging him to get help.
The Ford scandal exploded almost a year ago following reports of another video that shows the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair later confirmed the existence of the video, which was retrieved from a laptop seized as part of Project Traveller, a sweeping investigation into guns and drugs.
John Tory, who is also challenging Ford in the mayoral race, said he is relieved, “on a personal level,” that the mayor will get help.
“Like Torontonians across the city, I am deeply disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford's behaviour,” Tory said in a statement.
“For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign.”
Full statement from Mayor Rob Ford:
Tonight I want to take some time to speak from my heart to the people of Toronto. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life. I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time.
Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help.
I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.
I love the people of Toronto, I love being your mayor and I hope you will continue to stand by me.
With the support of my family, friends, professionals and the people of Toronto, I will conquer this.
Please keep me and my family in your prayers during these difficult days ahead.
I just want to say to the people of Toronto that I thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate it.
Mayor Rob Ford