Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on Friday lost the radio show he has used to ignite a conservative following and came under mounting pressure from family, colleagues and critics to resign or go on leave.
Fellow city officials in Canada’s biggest municipality called on Ford to put the city’s interests first, and some threatened to join in an appeal to the provincial government to take action to force him out of office if he doesn’t go voluntarily.
Ford admitted Tuesday to having smoked crack cocaine “in one of my drunken stupors,” but only after denying it for six months. Reporters for the Toronto Star and the gossip website Gawker reported in May seeing a video on which the clearly identifiable mayor was puffing on a glass crack pipe.
Though he apologized profusely after the admission, he declared that he had nothing more to hide. Then another video surfaced Thursday showing Ford ranting and wildly gesticulating as he threatened to kill someone.
The target of Ford’s profanity-laden rage wasn’t clear from the 77-second recording, nor were the circumstances that set him off.
On Friday, Ford’s brother, City Councillor Doug Ford, told a Toronto radio station that the mayor needed to take a vacation and work on losing weight.
“I’ve mentioned to Rob, maybe go away for a week, a couple of weeks, and get your mind together,” Doug Ford said in an interview on Radio AM 640.
The Ford brothers were informed Friday that their weekly Sunday talk show on Newstalk 1010 had been cancelled as of the last broadcast. The announcement sent under the station and the Fords’ names described the decision as “mutual” but appeared to come as an unwelcome surprise to the brothers, who have used their show as a beacon to their conservative suburban followers, the Torontoist website reported.
Ford’s mother, Diane, also said he needed to deal with his “huge weight problem,” watch the company he keeps and limit his drinking. But she was quoted by the Associated Press as denying her son needs substance abuse treatment.
The mayor attributed his profane rant on the second video, thought to have been made in August, to having been “extremely, extremely inebriated.”
Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, told CBC News that rehab was an option the mayor was considering. The broadcast also quoted Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly as saying that Ford was prepared “to take some down time.”
City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong wrote in a Globe and Mail commentary that he planned to appeal to Ontario provincial authorities to consider ways of curbing the powers of a mayor who he said has become an obstacle to effective governance.
“Unlike a corporation, with a board that can remove a chief executive whose conduct is unbecoming or harmful, the city presently lacks the ability to take the keys away from a mayor who no longer is fit to lead,” Minnan-Wong lamented.
Ford spent a couple of hours at his office on Friday but had few words for the media scrum he encountered as he left for the day.
“Give me some personal time this afternoon,” he said. “I’m dealing with a very serious personal issue right now.”