Defiant Toronto mayor stresses he won't resign
TORONTO — Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford repeated Saturday that he won’t resign despite mounting pressure for him to step aside after police said they had obtained a copy of a video that appears to show him puffing on a crack pipe.
Meanwhile, a city spokeswoman released an incident report from city hall security guards who said they witnessed a “very intoxicated’ Ford having trouble walking and swearing at aides on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012.
Ford reportedly met Saturday with his deputy mayor, who has said he wanted to express the concerns of city council members after news of the video emerged. Police on Thursday announced that the video had been recovered from a computer hard drive during an investigation of an associate of the mayor’s suspected of providing him drugs.
Approached outside his office Saturday, Ford smiled and said, “No. As I told you before I’m not resigning.”
He is scheduled to host his weekly radio show this afternoon, and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly told several media outlets Saturday that Ford would have an “announcement.” He did not elaborate.
Allegations that the mayor of Canada’s largest city had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine surfaced in May. Two reporters with the Toronto Star and one from the U.S. website Gawker said they saw the video but did not obtain a copy. Police Chief Bill Blair told a news conference Thursday he was “disappointed” in Ford but said the video did not provide grounds to press charges against him.
Ford’s lawyer has called on police to release the video, saying it likely shows the mayor smoking something other than crack.
All four major Toronto newspapers called on Ford to resign over the video, the latest example of the mayor’s increasingly erratic behavior.
The incident report released Saturday says that at 2:30 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, Ford “visited the security desk alone with a half empty bottle of St. Remy French Brandy.” The report states the mayor said his car had been stolen and that he wanted to call police. Security told Ford his car was at home and took the bottle from him before finding him a taxi.
City officials changed course and agreed to release the document after Toronto police confirmed they had obtained the crack video.
Toronto City Councilor Shelley Carroll said Ford has hurt morale at city hall and urged him to take a leave of absence.
“The mayor’s personal life has gradually overtaken his professional life, and the findings that came to light over the week confirm many of the urban legends that existed,” Carroll said.
Kelly, a Ford ally, reportedly met with the mayor Saturday. Spokespeople for the mayor and his deputy did not return messages seeking comment.
Police said the video will come out when Ford’s associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug and extortion charges. Lisi, who was released on bail Friday morning, is accused of threatening two alleged gang members who had been trying to sell the video to the media.
The mayor is not facing any charges. However, police have said they want to talk to him, but his lawyer has so far declined the request.
Municipal law makes no provision for Ford’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offense. Voters may have the final word in the October 2014 mayoral election, in which Ford has said he plans to run.
Ford, a burly populist who refers to his conservative supporters as “Ford Nation,” promised to end wasteful spending at city hall when he became mayor three years ago.
“He’s never had a grip on reality,” City Councilor Adam Vaughan said. “The people that were seduced into believing that this populist had some sort of intelligence behind the drama failed to understand what the drama was.
“It’s sad that it’s come to this. It has hurt the city.”