TORONTO, (Reuters) – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted yesterday he has smoked crack cocaine, probably “in one of my drunken stupors,” but insisted he’s not an addict and said he would stay in office and run for reelection next year.
Speaking just days after Toronto’s police chief confirmed that police have recovered a copy of a video that two media organizations have said shows the mayor smoking the drug, Ford said he had smoked crack about a year ago.
“Yes I have smoked crack cocaine… Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago,” he told reporters outside his office.
Later, he returned to address the media with an emotional formal statement. “To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down, and I can’t do anything else but apologize,” he said.
Elected in 2010 on a cost-cutting platform, Ford has been able to maintain strong voter support in his suburban base even as the scandal has escalated. A poll taken after Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed the existence of the video put Ford’s approval rating at 44 percent, up five points from a previous poll.
But while Ford’s popular support has held strong, his once rock-solid supporters at City Hall have started wavering.
City councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford’s cabinet-like executive committee, said he will bring a motion to the next city council meeting asking Ford to take a leave of absence. Council does not have the power to force Ford out of office. “It is very disappointing to have the mayor of the City of Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine,” he told reporters. “I was disappointed at two levels: firstly that he did it, but secondly that it took him so long to admit it.”
Another motion circulating at City Hall would seek to restrict Ford’s ability to remove people from his executive committee and other standing committees.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne voiced concern about the events in Toronto, but said the province would not intervene. “I am not going to pre-empt what the mayor may or may not do,” she told reporters. “I have said I’m concerned, the police service and the judicial system have to take action, but the mayor will have to make his decisions about what is appropriate right now… That’s his responsibility.”