Embattled Toronto mayor says he's getting professional help
Toronto • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced Thursday he's getting help from health care professionals but refused to step aside over his drug use and drinking. He also threatened to take legal actions against former staffers who spoke to police about his behavior and denied making sexual advances toward a female staffer.
Ford, who has been under pressure to resign since admitting last week, to smoking crack used a typical mix of contriteness and angry defiance during several public appearances.
Ford said at a news conference he didn't want to comment on the particulars of the health care support he's receiving and asked for privacy for his family.
Ford said he was pushed "over the line" by newly released court documents that included allegations against him involving cocaine, escorts and prostitution. He called the allegations "100 percent lies."
He said his integrity as a father and husband had been attacked, prompting him to "see red."
"I acted on complete impulse in my remarks," Ford said.
In threatening to sue former aides, Ford was reacting to details in newly released court documents that revealed more allegations of his bad behavior from drunken driving to verbal abuse, ramping up a political storm that has consumed Toronto for months.
Outraged City Councilors who voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to call on Ford to take a leave of absence turned their backs on the mayor as he addressed the council Thursday. Ford has resisted mounting pressure to resign since admitting last week to smoking crack.
Speaking to reporters before addressing the council, Ford used coarse language to deny he once told a female staffer he wanted to have oral sex with her. The choice of words made on live television drew gasps from shocked reporter.
"I've never said that in my life to her, I would never do that," Ford said.
The father of two school-age children said is "happily married" and used more crude language saying he gets enough satisfaction at home.
The court documents released Thursday are part of a drug case against Ford's friend and occasional driver. Police interviews with Ford's ex-staffers revealed their concerns about his drug use and drunk driving, with one staffer alleging he saw Ford "impaired, driving very fast," and frightening a female staffer who was in the car with him.
In another incident, Ford was described by a former staff member as being "very inebriated, verbally abusive and inappropriate with" a female staff member on St. Patrick's Day. Another former staffer reported seeing the mayor drunk in his office about 15 to 20 times in the year he worked for him.
Ford acknowledged that he might have consumed alcohol while driving.
But he said he would take legal action against his former chief of staff, Mark Towhey and two other aides over their interviews with police. Ford did not specify what the aides might have said that was untrue. He did say he would take action against a waiter who said he believed Ford and a woman were snorting cocaine in a private room at a restaurant.
"I have to take legal action against the waiter who said I was doing lines," he said. "Outright lies, that is not true."
Later, nearly half of Toronto's 44-member City Council turned their backs as the mayor, who wore a Toronto Argonauts football jersey and cowboy boots, spoke about routine city affairs.
One council member demanded he apologize for his offensive language. Ford shouted back: If you're offended, I'm not apologizing, because put yourself in my shoes if someone said that about your husband or your wife."
The Toronto Argonauts football team took issue with Ford wearing the team jersey.
"These latest remarks, while wearing our team's jersey, are particularly disappointing," the team said in a statement.
Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former Ford ally, is now calling on the mayor to resign in light of the latest court documents and comments.
"This is beyond a leave of absence. He needs to resign," said councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong. "This mayor thinks he is above the law, he is not."
Councilor Giorgio Mammoliti, a Ford ally, said if Ford doesn't agree to go for treatment by the end of the day he's lost his support.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, also a Ford ally, said he's increasingly sad that "Canada's biggest and most important city had been reduced to that squalid context."