Hundreds rally at Toronto city hall for Rob Ford’s resignation
Published Saturday, June 1, 2013 6:23AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 1, 2013 11:21PM EDT
Hundreds of protestors rallied outside Toronto’s city hall on Saturday, shouting chants and holding placards calling on Mayor Rob Ford to step down in light of drug allegations swirling around him.
The event, called “Stand Up For Toronto – Let’s Demand Rob Ford’s Resignation,” started just before noon at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto.
Attendee Jim Hedger said the latest scandal was the “final straw” and it was time for the mayor to resign.
“He’s a man who appears willing to say anything – except the truth – to stay in office,” Hedger told The Canadian Press. “He’s not been good economically or culturally for this town.”
Saturday’s Facebook-organized rally was the first mass protest since news broke of an alleged drug video more than two weeks ago.
Attendees bellowed repeated chants of “hey hey, ho ho, Rob Ford’s got to go” while others wrote chalk messages on the square’s concrete floor.
“Ford resignation not Ford Nation,” one chalk message said, referring to the mayor’s group of supporters.
Brandon Fairley called Ford “a joke,” saying Toronto has become a laughing stock. “We’re a world-class city and in the past month people have been laughing at us. We’ve become a joke.”
But not everyone agreed with the throng of protestors.
"This is not due process. No matter how you feel about Ford, it's un-Canadian," said Derek Hill, adding that people are jumping to conclusion about the alleged video, which has not been publicly released.
Ford shrugged off the chalk messages as he walked through Nathan Phillips Square Saturday evening accompanied by security guards.
“People have the right to their opinion, that’s fine,” he told CP24’s Cristina Tenaglia.
In mid-May, reports emerged from U.S. website Gawker and the Toronto Star, describing an alleged video their reporters said appears to show Ford smoking from a crack pipe. The existence or content of the video has not been verified by CTV News.
Ford has said he does not use crack cocaine and that the video does not exist. He has been barraged daily by reporters’ questions about the allegations, often refusing to answer them.
Ford has, however, said that he will not step down and is planning to run again in the municipal election next year.
On Friday, Ford announced that his office had hired three new staff members. The new hires came amid a flurry of departures from the mayor’s office.
During a press conference on the matter Friday, Ford confirmed that special assistant Michael Prempeh was leaving his office. Prempeh joins five other Ford staffers who have either quit or been fired in the past two weeks.
With files from The Canadian Press and CP24's Jackie Crandles