Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted Tuesday that he has smoked crack cocaine “in one of my drunken stupors,” six months after reports of a video depicting him puffing on a crack pipe.
At an impromptu news conference on the steps of City Hall, Ford admitted the illegal substance use but denied he was an addict.
Ford confronted the mass of reporters outside his office with another claim that he has never seen the purported video but called on the press to again pose the question it had asked him in May, after reports of the crack-smoking incident first circulated.
“Do you smoke crack cocaine?” a reporter asked, prompting the smiling mayor to reply: “Exactly.”
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Ford said. “I’ve made mistakes … All I can do is apologize and move on.”
Asking himself rhetorically if he was an addict, Ford replied that he was not. “Have I tried it? Probably, in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”
The admission prompted even allied city leaders to distance themselves from Ford and call for his removal from office.
“I think he’s lost the moral authority to lead,” said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of the mayor’s cabinet who said he plans to call on the mayor to “apologize for misleading the city of Toronto.”
Another of Ford’s executive team, Councillor Jaye Robinson, told the Toronto Star it would probably be up to the City Council to move to strip Ford of his mayoral powers or drive him out with massive budget cuts.
Journalists from the Toronto Star and the gossip news site Gawker reported in May having seen a video in which the mayor and three men later identified as gang members appeared to be smoking crack.
Ford, 44, said at the time that he hadn’t seen the video because it “did not exist.” He blamed the allegations and the ensuing scandal on “the Toronto Star going after me.”
But last week, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair reignited the dormant controversy with his announcement that authorities had recovered two video images relevant to the mayor in the course of a wider drug investigation.
“The video files depict images that are consistent with what has previously been reported,” Blair said at a news conference, referring to the Star and Gawker accounts six months ago. “It’s safe to say the mayor does appear in the video.”
Ford challenged the police chief over the weekend to release the video, so that the people of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, could judge for themselves whether he was guilty of wrongdoing.
“I’m the first one to admit I am not perfect. I have made mistakes,” Ford said on CFRB-Newstalk 1010,” during a radio talk show he co-hosts with his brother, Toronto Councillor Doug Ford.
He admitted to alcohol abuse at times, saying he had gotten “hammered.”
On Tuesday, just before the mayor’s admission, Doug Ford accused Blair of running a politicized police force and called on the law enforcement chief to resign.
Blair thinks “he’s the judge, the jury and the executioner,” the city councillor said, accusing the police chief of wanting to “put a political bullet right between the mayor’s eyes.”