A meeting of Toronto's City Council descended into farce Monday as Mayor Rob Ford fought a bid to strip him of more of his powers after his admission of crack smoking and binge drinking.
Ford taunted hecklers in the public gallery, calling them "punks," and at one point the rotund 44-year-old accidentally bowled over a councilwoman as he charged across the chamber.
Last week, the civic leaders of Canada's largest city had already voted to curb Ford's official duties and on Monday were expected to adopt a measure aimed at reducing him to a figurehead.
But Ford, who has apologized for his hell-raising lifestyle and for obscene public outbursts, has vowed to fight both in court and at the ballot box to keep his job.
"He feels very strongly that he has a job to do and he wants to do it and he is doing it," Ford's lawyer George Rust D'Eye said.
"The city can't essentially gang up on him and remove the powers which the province has given him."
The mayor has faced a swell of outrage over a litany of misdeeds, both admitted and alleged, ever since police last month revealed that they have video footage showing him smoking crack.
Ford admitted he had smoked the illicit drug and apologized for his antics, including what he described as his many "drunken stupors."
New allegations of misconduct, disclosed last week, and his lewd remarks in denying sexual harassment claims deepened the scandal, prompting widespread calls for his resignation.
Debate over the motion to curb the mayor's powers was marked by rowdy outbursts and argumentative to-and-fro between councilors and Ford's dwindling band of supporters.
Ford swung in his chair and pantomimed one councilor's alleged drinking and driving and stood to confront hecklers in the public gallery.
At one point, Ford knocked a councilwoman to the floor when he charged across the chamber. She appeared rattled but uninjured as Ford, a former linebacker, broke off to help her to her feet.
Ford said he thought his brother Doug, who is also a city councilor, "was getting into an altercation."
Most of the councilors are believed to support the motion, but a few expressed concerns, saying it is "illegal and anti-democratic" and de facto removing the mayor from office.
Over the weekend, Ford made the rounds of the US media to try to convey his side of the story, to general incredulity, and attended a Toronto Argonauts football game where fans cheered him on.
He also taped a new Canadian television talk show with his brother. It was due to air later Monday.
Canadian municipal politics rarely resonates far beyond city limits, but such is Ford's infamy that he was also parodied on the US weekly sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live."
He told U.S. broadcasters that he works out at a gym every day, and is "seeking professional help" in order to shed a few pounds and get his personal life back on track.
"If you don't see a difference in the next four, five months then I have to eat my words," he told Fox News.
He maintained, however: "I'm not an alcoholic, I'm not a drug addict."
Doug Ford characterized the city council's emergency session as a "kangaroo court," warning his peers against a "coup d'etat" over the mayor's personal and not professional problems.
Ford meanwhile revealed to U.S. media that he has aspirations to run for prime minister of Canada.
Of his critics, he said: "The haters are going to be the haters."
He dubbed most Toronto city councilors "left-wing tax-and-spend socialists" while describing himself as a fiscal conservative with liberal social values who saved taxpayers Can$1 billion.
Ford told Fox News he was elected with 47 percent voter support in 2010 and added: "I'm very sure I'm going to get re-elected."
© AFP 2014