Toronto Mayor Rob Ford won't resign after admitting he smoked crack cocaine
Christina Commisso and Sonja Puzic , CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, November 5, 2013 12:23PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 5, 2013 9:57PM EST
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he has “nothing left to hide” and will not step down, after admitting that he smoked crack cocaine.
“I love my job, I love this city, I love saving taxpayers’ money and I love being your mayor,” he told reporters at city hall Tuesday afternoon.
“For the sake of the taxpayers...we must get back to work immediately…I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing.”
Several hours earlier, Ford said that he's smoked crack in the past, but he is not addicted to the drug.
"Yes I have smoked crack cocaine. But I am not an addict," he said in a stunning admission. "Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors," he said, adding that he may have smoked it approximately one year ago.
Ford later re-emerged from his office with a prepared statement.
“With today’s announcement I know I embarrassed everyone in the city and I will be forever sorry,” he said. “There is only one person to blame for this and that is myself. I know admitting my mistake was the right thing to do and I feel like a thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders.”
Ford said admitting his drug use -- after months of denials -- was “the most difficult and embarrassing” thing he’s had to do.
“I hope…that nobody -- that nobody has to go through what I’ve gone through,” he said.
“Folks, I have nothing left to hide,” he added.
“I want to be clear, I want to be crystal clear to every single person: these mistakes will never, ever, ever happen again.
“I kept this from my family, especially my brother Doug, my staff, my council colleagues because I was embarrassed and ashamed.”
Ford said he will work to regain the trust of Toronto residents, who will “have a choice” in next year’s municipal election.
He finished his speech with: “God bless the people of Toronto.”
The bombshell revelation came days after Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said police had recovered a video that, in accordance with news reports, shows the mayor smoking from a crack pipe.
In his comments, Ford said there were a "couple of isolated incidents" when he's been in a "drunken stupor."
He called on Blair, once again, to release the video.
"I don't even recall there being a tape and a video. So I want to see the state that I was in. I don’t know what else I can say."
Ontario’s Attorney General, John Gerretsen, said the video will “absolutely not” be released until it’s presented in court – if that happens.
Asked by reporters why he has repeatedly denied smoking crack in the past, Ford said he wasn't lying because reporters didn’t ask him the “right question.”
When news of the video was first published in May, Ford said he does not smoke crack, and could not comment on a video he had not seen or does not exist.
He has previously called reports about the video “ridiculous” and often ignored repeated questions about crack use.
As recently as Monday, Ford was specifically asked outside his office if he’s ever smoked crack since being elected. He did not answer.
Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, told CP24 Tuesday that he didn’t think the mayor advised anyone before deciding to come clean.
Morris said he has advised his client not to discuss the issue with police.
“Everyone has the right to remain silent and everyone has the right not to make a case against them and that’s what I advised the mayor,” he said.
Last week, court documents revealed that Toronto Police have been tracking Ford’s movements as part of their investigation into the mayor’s friend Alexander (Sandro) Lisi, who was arrested last month on drug-related offences.
Lisi was later charged with extortion in connection to the Ford video.
Asked whether he would advise Ford to enter rehab, Morris said: “I don’t know why people think there’s magic in rehab because statistics show it’s not very successful.”
But he added that the mayor could benefit from some kind of “assistance.”
Councillors call on Ford to step down
Following Ford's admission, Coun. Jaye Robinson said Ford "does not have a shred of credibility."
Calling on Ford to step down, at least temporarily, she said city hall has become "a circus."
"Anyone saying it's not affecting the business of the city, they're not being honest. It absolutely is."
Coun. Paula Fletcher suggested Ford step aside in order to get some help.
"He needs to actually not be in the media spotlight and trying to fulfil his operations as the mayor in order to get the help he needs," she said.
Coun. John Filion said council can't remove Ford from office as he was elected.
"I'm not calling for him to be removed from office. Council can't remove him from office; the people can do that next October if he's in the election," he said.
"But the city has important work to do ... The train wreck is happening and we need to get rid of this distraction.”
Earlier in the day, Filion said he plans to table a motion that would see council vote on suspending the mayor's powers to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and standing committee chairs.
The motion would remove Ford's ability to shuffle the members of his executive committee and hand that power over to city council at large.
Following Ford's shocking announcement, Filion said he has "empathy" for the mayor.
"We all have reasons why we behave the way we do. On a personal level, I feel very badly for the mayor. When I say I hope he steps aside and gets his life in order, I mean that sincerely," he said.
'Huge amount of turmoil at city hall': Premier
Following Ford's drug use revelation, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said her biggest concern is whether city business can carry on.
"We want municipalities to be able to function, and there is a huge amount of turmoil at city hall right now," she told reporters.
Wynne said there is no legislation in place to remove Ford from the mayor’s office, but noted that the police service and the courts "have to take action."
"I'm concerned about the situation, as I believe all Torontonians are," she said. "We're watching this with concern."