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Defiant Toronto mayor repeats he won't resign

November 2, 2013
Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) — Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reiterated 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 the mayor puffing on a crack pipe.

Ford smiled outside his office and said: "No. As I told you before I'm not resigning."

Allegations that the mayor of Canada's largest city had been caught on the video smoking crack cocaine first 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 said he was "disappointed" in Ford at a news conference Thursday in which he 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.

The Toronto Board of Trade called for Ford to take a leave of absence, saying the mayor needs to put the city first. All four major Toronto newspapers have called on Ford to resign.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, a Ford ally, said Friday he would meet with Ford on Saturday to express the concerns of many city council members. Kelly said he hoped Ford would make the right decision.

Ford and Kelly reportedly met. Spokespeople for the mayor and his deputy did not return messages seeking comment. The mayor is scheduled to host his weekly radio show on Sunday afternoon.

More damaging information has also come to light about Ford's bizarre behavior. A spokeswoman for the city of Toronto released a security incident report from city hall security guards who say they witnessed a "very intoxicated' Ford having trouble walking, sweating profusely and swearing at aides after St. Patrick's Day in 2012.

The report states that at 2:30 a.m. the mayor "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 informed 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 this week.

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. "We now know that mayor's personal life frequently, on a day to day basis, overshadows what he should be doing as a mayor."

Despite the pressure on Ford, municipal law makes no provision for his 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.

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 himself is not facing any charges. However, police have said they want to talk to him, but his lawyer has so far declined the request.

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, tapping into a well of suburban voter anger with his "stop the gravy train" message.

"He's never had a grip on reality. There was never a gravy train. 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," City Councilor Adam Vaughan said. "The drama was a profoundly dysfunctional person who kept failing upward. It's sad that it's come to this. It has hurt the city."

 
 

 

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