'It's a caucus, not a circus': Quebec mayors shun Rob Ford
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014 1:04PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 26, 2014 6:59PM EST
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he doesn’t want anything to do with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, echoing the sentiments of other Quebec mayors attending Wednesday’s Big City Mayors Caucus.
At a midday news conference, Quebec mayors discussed the day-long meeting in Ottawa and were asked about Ford’s presence.
Coderre spoke first, initially responding with “C’est qui ca?” (“Who is this?”) when asked about Ford.
Coderre went on to say that he did not talk to Ford or shake his hand during the morning session.
“He did his job, that’s okay. But that’s it. He’s not my friend,” Coderre said.
“He’s got the right to be there, but I don’t care about him. It’s a caucus, not a circus.”
Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume then took the microphone to say Ford “can behave as he wants.” But Labeaume said he did not want his children to see him working with Ford.
Labeaume had told the Journal de Quebec that he would not attend any press conference with Ford during the meetings because the Toronto mayor’s behaviour discredits other mayors.
Ford returns to meeting after leaving early
Ford caused a stir when he decided to leave the event halfway through the day, even though the afternoon sessions included a visit from Candice Bergen, the federal minister of state for social development.
Ford told reporters in Ottawa he would skip the second half of the meeting to have lunch with a friend and tour the city's new CFL stadium. However, after learning Bergen would be at the afternoon session, he decided to return to the meeting. He said he planned to speak to the minister about social housing.
Ford said he didn't realize Bergen would be at the session, even though it was on the event's agenda.
Earlier Wednesday morning, Ford held his own press conference and was asked about whether it “made sense” for him to make his first-ever appearance at the Big City Mayors Caucus given the scandal hanging over his mayoralty.
“I represent the people of Toronto, so I’m not quite sure who else would be here,” Ford said.
“Unless there’s another person I’m not aware of that got 380,000 votes.”
Asked whether other mayors might view his presence as a distraction, Ford replied that, “Everyone has their own prerogative. They can think and do what they want.”
Ford added that all of the mayors in attendance have been friendly to him.
Before the Quebec mayors spoke, caucus chair and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson sidestepped a Ford question at a separate news conference, saying that “We’re glad to have a great showing of mayors.”
During his morning press conference, Ford also faced questions about his alcohol and drug use. On Tuesday, Ford appeared on the “Today” show and told host Matt Lauer that he doesn’t use illegal drugs. “I experimented with them, probably a year ago,” Ford told Lauer.
When asked about the interview by reporters at City Hall later Tuesday, Ford was evasive and accused them of being jealous that he had spoken to an American network.
On Wednesday, CP24’s Katie Simpson repeatedly asked Ford to clarify if he’d use illegal drugs since November, when he admitted to previously using crack cocaine “probably in one of my drunken stupors.”
Ford said Wednesday that he was “quite clear, I said no.” He admitted that he did drink during the incident at Steak Queen, when he was filmed at an Etobicoke fast-food restaurant in January speaking in a Jamaican patois.
“I have not done drugs since probably a year ago,” he said.
“I’m not going to sit here and get brow-beaten for the mistakes that I’ve made. I’ve made mistakes, we’ve all made mistakes in this room, but we all carry on.”
Ford said he’s looking forward to getting back on the campaign trail ahead of the coming civic election in October, when he will “let the people decide” on whether he should remain Toronto’s mayor.