Toronto Mayor Admits Buying Illegal Drugs
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has admitted to the City Council that he has bought illegal drugs in the past two years.
The mayor made the confession under direct questioning by councilors who are debating a motion that would ask him to take a leave of absence.
Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong asked Ford if he had bought illegal drugs in the past two years. After a long pause, Ford replied: "Yes I have."
"I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it," Ford said.
But he then turned defiant, saying he was not an addict of any sort and rebuffed suggestions from council members that he should seek help. He insisted he is a "positive role model for kids who are down and out."
"I'm most definitely keeping this job," he said. "I am not leaving here. I'm going to sit here and going to attend every meeting."
Moments earlier, all but two of the 43 councilors present for the debate voted to accept an open letter asking Ford to step aside.
Although it was a stark demonstration of his political isolation, the vote was symbolic because the City Council does not have the authority to force the mayor from office unless he is convicted of a crime.
"Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence," Councilor Jaye Robinson said, reading the open letter.
The packed council chamber erupted with applause when Robinson ended her speech, saying "Let's get on with city business."
The letter was separate from the motion introduced by Minnan-Wong, which would formally call on Ford to take a leave of absence, apologize to Toronto residents for misleading them and cooperate with police.
Ford's refusal to resign has confounded the City Council, where many members agree that his erratic behavior — from public drunkenness to threatening to kill someone in a videotaped tirade — has consumed Toronto's politics and undermined efforts to tackle other challenges.
But with no clear legal path to force him out, the Council is grasping for ways to shunt the larger-than-life leader aside and govern without him until next year's municipal elections.
Toronto police said last month they had obtained a long-sought video of Ford apparently smoking from a crack pipe but that it does not constitute enough evidence to charge him.
News reports of the crack video's existence first surfaced in May, but it has not been released publicly.
Toronto's mayor already has limited powers compared to the mayors of many large cities in the United States. He is just one voting member in the council and his power stems mostly from his ability, as the only councilor elected by citywide vote, to build consensus and set the agenda. That authority, many council members say, has evaporated in the crack scandal.
"We really just have to build a box around the mayor so we can get work done," said councilor John Filion, who has introduced one of two motions in the council designed to isolate Ford.
Ford publicly admitted last week that he smoked crack cocaine last year in a "drunken stupor" but his comments Wednesday marked the first time he admitted to having bought illegal drugs.