Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitted during a heated city council debate that he had bought illegal drugs in the past two years, but he firmly refused to step down from his job even after nearly every councillor stood up to ask him to take a leave of absence.
The mayor made the confession under direct questioning by a councillor who has introduced a motion that would ask Ford to take a leave of absence and get help for his admitted drug use.
Ford publicly admitted last week that he smoked crack cocaine last year in a “drunken stupor”, but his comments last night marked the first time he acknowledged having bought illegal drugs.
Ford paused for a long time after Cllr Denzil Minnan-Wong asked him if he had bought illicit narcotics in the past two years. Then Ford replied, “Yes I have.”
“I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it.”
He then turned defiant, saying he was not an addict of any sort and rebuffed suggestions 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,” Cllr Jaye Robinson said, reading the open letter.
The letter was separate from the motion introduced by Minnan-Wong, which would formally call on Ford to take a leave of absence, apologise to Toronto residents, and co-operate with police.
Ford’s refusal to resign has confounded the council.
His erratic behaviour includes public drunkenness and threatening to kill someone in a videotaped tirade.
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.
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