Tags: Canada | politics | crime | drugs

Toronto Mayor Faces Mounting Pressure to Quit; Considers Rehab

Friday, 08 Nov 2013 07:42 PM

 

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Toronto's embattled Mayor Rob Ford faced mounting pressure Friday to quit, as his lawyer announced he was considering addiction treatment after admitting to smoking crack cocaine and having alcohol problems.

The leader of Canada's biggest city has been embroiled in scandal since it emerged that a video held by police allegedly shows him using the powerful drug, but his predicament has since been made worse by aired footage.

The 44-year-old denies being an addict but said earlier this week that he had once smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor" -- a stunning confession after months of denials, and one that threw his political future into question.

The second video (Note: video contains graphic language), which has gone viral, shows Ford in an agitated, drunken state, staggering and making foul-mouthed death threats.

Treatment is "an option he has to consider and he will be considering," Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, told public broadcaster CBC on Friday.

Ford's brother Doug, a Toronto city councilor and arguably his staunchest supporter, has urged the mayor to take a short break to try and regain his health, before returning to resume his political career.

"If Rob goes away on a little vacation, a week, two weeks, comes back, loses 50 or 60 pounds, and stays on the straight and narrow... it will be very tough to beat Rob Ford" in the next municipal election in October 2014, he told local radio station AM640.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly told CBC News, meanwhile, that he and others were hearing that Ford was "prepared to take some downtime, not as much as people would like, but it's a start."

He also suggested Ford could elaborate on possible plans in a matter of days. "The mayor might make an announcement early next week," Kelly told reporters.

Earlier, Ford's sister Kathy insisted the mayor was "not an addict," telling broadcaster CP24 that he "wouldn't be able to function" if he were.

She also said Ford did not drink every night, but acknowledged that when he does, "he goes full tilt."

In the same interview, Ford's mother Diane called her son's recent behavior "unacceptable."

The mayor showed up for work as usual on Friday, attending a closed council meeting and getting a flu shot.

"I feel good, I feel very good," he told throngs of reporters camped outside his office as he left city hall for the day, adding that he was dealing with a "very serious personal matter" and asking journalists to give him "some time." Ford's mother was said to be undergoing surgery on Friday.

Amid the blowback from Ford's crack admission, he said had been "extremely, extremely inebriated" when the second video, published by the daily Toronto Star, was taken.

Ford's mother told CP24 she had told her son, "Rob, you need to smarten up a little bit," and that she had urged him to attack his weight problem and "see a counselor, do get help."

She insisted, however, that Ford should not step down as long as he continues to have strong public support, even as concern shifted from his drug admission to his excessive drinking.

"He's strong enough to come out of this and deal with his problems," said his sister Kathy, herself a self-proclaimed recovering addict.

A former ally on the city council, Denzil Minnan-Wong, expressed growing impatience with the mayor in a letter to the Toronto Star.

"This is a human being in agony. As a matter of medical urgency, (Ontario) Premier Kathleen Wynne must step in and be mom," Minnan-Wong wrote.

"If he can't find the exit, I think we need to show him the door."

The council is expected to vote next week on a motion asking Wynne to enter the fray and remove Ford from office.

A local radio station announced that a weekly Sunday radio show featuring the mayor and his brother has been canceled. It was on the NewsTalk1010 broadcast that the mayor last Sunday apologized for "mistakes."

Also Friday, media lawyers were in court asking for the release of wiretap evidence and seized videos in the prosecution of a Ford friend for his alleged "extortive efforts to retrieve a recording" of the mayor's antics, and of a third man linked to Ford who is facing separate drug charges.

Toronto police have released hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted documents detailing months of police surveillance on Ford and his associates. Ford has not been charged with any crime.

© AFP 2014

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