Just days after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologized for smoking crack cocaine, he admitted on Thursday he was "extremely, extremely inebriated" in a short, expletive-laden video posted online. By Allison Martell
The news hit as a campaign by some city councillors to ask the Ontario provincial government to remove Ford from office gathered steam. Toronto city council does not have the power to remove Ford itself.
The blurry, 80-second clip, posted on the Toronto Star newspaper’s website and shown on Canadian television, shows a
clearly agitated Ford ranting, making threats and pounding his hands together, while at least one other person seems to be goading him on.
The Star said it had paid for the video, and said the context of the clip was not clear.
“He dies or I die,” Ford says in the clip, which also refers to something happening “in that ring”. He adds: “I need fucking 10 minutes to make sure he’s dead. It’ll be over in five minutes.”
On Tuesday, Ford made international headlines when he admitted he had smoked crack cocaine, “probably in one of my drunken stupors”. He apologized and promised it would never happen again.
Minutes after the video was posted on Thursday, Ford emerged from his City Hall office to apologize again.
“All I can say is – again – I’ve made mistakes. All I can do is reassure the people that … I just wanted to come out and tell you I saw the video, it’s extremely embarrassing,” Ford said. “Obviously, I was extremely, extremely inebriated.”
The mayor did not say who he was talking about in the video, or give further details.
For months, the mayor had been dodging questions about reports by media blog Gawker and the Toronto Star that he had been caught on video using the crack.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said last week the force had obtained a video “consistent” with those reports, without describing its contents in detail. He said he was disappointed by what he saw in the video.
Blair would not comment on Thursday on the most recent video. Ford has refused to resign, and he has vowed to run for re-election next October.
It is difficult to force a mayor of Toronto out of office, unless he or she violates election or conflict of interest rules, or goes to prison. There are no recall elections of the sort that take place in the United States.
But Toronto’s city council may vote next week on a motion to ask the provincial government to remove Ford from his job.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former Ford supporter who drafted the motion, told reporters council must act because Ford has not been dealing with the situation to the satisfaction of the public.
“If he can’t find the exit I think we need to show him the door,” Minnan-Wong said.
Margaret Wente, a columnist at the Globe and Mail newspaper, said Ford should “step aside and get help”.
“But it’s obvious that he won’t,” she wrote. “The mayor is in deep denial. He has the insight of a tree stump.”
In a TV interview late on Thursday, Ford’s mother, Diane, said her son “does maybe need some help and counseling”.
At one point in the video posted on Thursday, an unknown voice says “Mike Tyson,” presumably referring to the boxer.
Earlier this year Ford arm-wrestled Hulk Hogan, the professional wrestler, at a media event The Toronto Sun, which posted a few seconds from the video, said a source close to the mayor had confirmed it showed Ford, but said it “looks a lot worse than it really is” because the mayor “sometimes goes off on tangents”.DM
(Reporting by Allison Martell, additional reporting by Cameron
French; editing by Janet Guttsman, Jackie Frank and Peter
Photo: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford wipes his face during council at City Hall in Toronto. (REUTERS/Mark Blinc)