Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he's taking a break from his campaign to seek help for substance abuse
TORONTO (AP) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is taking a leave of absence to seek help for alcohol after a report surfaced about a second video of him apparently smoking crack cocaine, but he is not abandoning hopes of seeking a second term as mayor of Canada's largest city.
One of his campaign rivals and other Toronto politicians demanded he resign. But in a statement Wednesday, Ford said he would take leave for an unspecified amount of time from both his mayoral post and his campaign for re-election.
"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time," Ford said in statement late Wednesday. "I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right."
The Globe and Mail newspaper said it has viewed a second video of Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine in his sister's basement. The national newspaper said two Globe reporters viewed the video from a self-professed drug dealer showing Ford taking a drag from a pipe early Saturday morning.
The video is part "of a package of three videos the dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15 a.m., and which he says he is now selling for 'at least six figures,'" the paper reported.
Ford did not address the reported video or make any reference to crack cocaine in his statement.
News reports of an earlier video of Ford apparently smoking crack first surfaced last May. The mayor denied the existence of that video for months but after police said they had obtained it, Ford acknowledged that he smoked crack in a "drunken stupor." He rebuffed intense pressure to resign and launched his re-election bid earlier this year. The first video has never been released to the public.
Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, said he spoke to Ford Wednesday and said the mayor has accepted that he has a problem.
"He acknowledges he has a substance abuse problem and he wants to do something about it," Morris told The Associated Press.
Ford did not specify how long his absence would be or what type of treatment will seek. Morris said Ford told him it was his intention to enter rehab but could not offer more details.
"Today a person could say they are going to do this. And tomorrow they could change their mind. Let's hope that's not the case," Morris said.
The mayor's mother, Diane Ford, told reporters Thursday that her son would enter rehab.
It's very sad," Diane Ford said. "I had no idea it was as serious as it was but he doesn't live with me so I don't know what he does every minute of every day."
"Please leave him alone. Leave us alone. He's doing what he needs to do, and that's good," she added.
The mayor was seen leaving his west-end Toronto home Thursday morning in a two-vehicle convoy but did not respond to reporters' questions. In a letter to the city clerk, Ford said simply indicated that he is taking a leave of absence and will provide updates on his status, according to Jackie DeSouza, a spokeswoman for the City of Toronto.
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash will they will investigate the new video. Â "Investigators would like to see the latest information," he said.
Ford is the target of an ongoing drug-related investigation but has not been charged. His friend and former driver Alexander Lisi is facing extortion charges over alleged attempts to retrieve the first crack video from an alleged gang member. Recently released police documents note that meetings between Ford and Lisi are "indicative to that of drug trafficking" and that the two have been in constant contact during the investigation.
Ford has careened from one scandal to another, including public drunkenness and an appearance in another video that showed him threatening "murder" in an incoherent rant. Toronto's city council has stripped him of most of his powers.
Also Wednesday, The Toronto Sun said that it had obtained an audio recording of Ford making offensive remarks about other politicians at a bar on Monday night, including his election rival Karen Stintz.
"Rob Ford's comments are gross," Stintz said. "Toronto is tired of being gripped in this sad, sad mess."
In in his statement Wednesday, Ford asked for continued support. "I love the people of Toronto, I love being your mayor and I hope you will continue to stand by me," he said.
Stintz did not call on Ford to resign, saying it's up to the people to decide. But another candidate in the Oct. 27 race, John Tory, said he is relieved that Ford should step down "for the good of the city."
City Councilor Janet Davis called Ford selfish for seeking re-election and said he's holding the city hostage. "We are now on episode 13 of the saga of Rob Ford trying to make up for his behavior. The people should not have to be dragged through another episode," Davis said.
Another councilor, John Parker, said Ford should "go and never come back. Things have gone too far."