Toronto council passes non-binding motion asking Rob Ford to step down
Christina Commisso, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, November 13, 2013 6:27AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 13, 2013 9:28PM EST
Toronto city council has overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion that asks Mayor Rob Ford to take a temporary leave of absence after admitting he has smoked crack cocaine and purchased illegal drugs since being elected to Toronto's top office.
Council voted 37-5 in favour of the non-binding motion that sparked an hours-long and often heated debate on Wednesday.
The council meeting saw a combative Ford face intense questioning from his council colleagues. The mayor, at one point, acknowledged that he may have violated council's code of conduct.
"Apologizing and saying sorry, you can only say that so many times. There's nothing else to say guys, I really effed up," he said, shortly before council voted in favour of the motion moved by Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former Ford ally.
Ford maintained that he's done a great job saving the taxpayers money while in office. "I'm going to continue doing that," he said. "We're going to move on."
Minnan-Wong's motion also asked that Ford co-operate with police regarding an ongoing drugs and guns investigation and to apologize for misleading Torontonians about a video alleged to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
The votes comes as previously redacted police documents further alleging alcohol and drug use by the mayor were released to the public.
While the motion is only symbolic, as council cannot force Ford to step down, councillors also voted in favour of having the integrity commissioner launch an investigation into Ford's conduct and recommend appropriate penalties and sanctions.
Throughout out the debate, Ford stressed he is not addicted to drugs or alcohol and that he intends to run for re-election in the 2014 mayoral race.
"I think we've all made mistakes in life and unfortunately, I'm in a position that it has been exposed," he said earlier in the day. "It is very, very humiliating, embarrassing and degrading to sit in front of the world and admit what I admitted."
Ford said that all he can do is move on, "and that's what I'm doing."
In a bizarre move, Ford attempted to table a motion that would require all members of council undergo drug and alcohol testing, saying he’d pay for it out of his own pocket. However, the motion was ruled out of order.
Before the vote, Minnan-Wong urged councillors to vote in favour of his motion, saying the "whole world" is watching Toronto.
"People who live in this city will be paying for the damage caused by terrible judgment, serial deception and rampant ego for a long while to come," he said.
He continued: "I'm so tired of waking up in the morning and wondering, 'what will it be today?'"
At one point, the debate had become heated when Coun. Doug Ford rose to speak, saying "everyone is this chamber is coming off holier-than-thou" before repeatedly asking Minnan-Wong if he has ever smoked marijuana.
"A yes or a no, have you smoked marijuana?" Doug Ford shouted across the council floor before a five-minute recess was called.
A number of Toronto councillors used Wednesday's meeting to question the mayor about his crack admission; Ford has remained silent on a number of allegations that have surfaced in the media over the last six months.
Questions arose about a widely-circulated photo of the mayor and three alleged drug dealers, one of whom has since been murdered and two others who were later arrested.
Coun. Michael Thompson asked the mayor about the infamous picture of him in front of 15 Windsor, which police have described as a crack house.
“That is not a crack house. It is a house with a family, with a father and a mother, three sons, and daughter,” Ford argued.
“Have you ever been in that house?” the mayor asked Thompson.
“I have no interest being in that house. I’m not a crack user,” Thompson shot back.
Ford said the photo taken outside 15 Windsor Dr. was a "one-off picture."
"I had never met those three men in my life," he said. "They came out and asked me to take a picture with them and that's the God-honest truth. I'm not part of gangbangers, I don’t support them."
In his remarks, the mayor maintained that, on the advice of his lawyer, he has not spoken with police about an ongoing guns and drugs investigation.