Toronto Mayor Won't Resign After Admitting He Smoked Crack

"There have been times when I've been in a drunken stupor," Rob Ford says.

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013  |  Updated 2:35 PM PDT
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Toronto Mayor Won't Resign After Admitting He Smoked Crack

AP

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said that he smoked crack "probably a year ago."

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford refused to step down Tuesday, hours after he admitted that he had smoked crack in a "drunken stupor," and he vowed still to run for reelection next year.

"I want to be crystal clear to every single person: These mistakes will never, ever ever happen again," Ford said Tuesday afternoon at a news conference.

That vow came after he admitted earlier in the day that he smoked crack "probably a year ago" when he was in a "drunken stupor," an admission that follows months of accusations during which he has refused to step down.

The allegations that he had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in May. Ford initially insisted the video didn't exist and sidestepped questions about whether he had ever smoked crack. He was forced to backtrack after police said last week they had obtained a copy of the video, which has not been released publicly.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Ford said that he until now had kept secret his crack-smoking from even his family and staff because he "was embarrassed and ashamed" but that he now had "nothing left to hide."

"To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down, and I can't do anything else but apologize. I apologize. I'm so sorry. I know I have to regain your trust and your confidence," he said. "I love my job, I love this city, I love saving taxpayers money and I love being your mayor."

What began as a somber apology culminated Tuesday afternoon in a promise to run for reelection in 2014, despite having admitted hours earlier to having smoked crack.

"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," Ford told reporters outside his office. "There have been times when I've been in a drunken stupor. That's why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I don't even recall there being a tape or video. I want to see the state that I was in."

Ford walked out of his office and asked reporters to ask him the question they first asked him in May. He acknowledged he smoked it but said: "Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it, probably in one of my drunken stupors a year ago."

Ford previously apologized for excessive drinking and other mistakes but has rebuffed pressure to step down. He had sidestepped questions about whether he has ever smoked crack until now.

Earlier Tuesday, Ford's brother, Doug, criticized Police Chief Bill Blair for saying he was "disappointed" in the mayor. Doug Ford called the chief's comments "inappropriate" and "biased" and said Blair should step aside.

"We have the most political police chief we have ever seen," said Doug Ford, a Toronto City Councillor. "The police chief believes he's the judge, the jury and the executioner."

Blair says he responded honestly when asked about his feelings after watching the video.

Another city councilor, John Filion, called Doug Ford's attack against the police chief "appalling" and said the Ford brothers have "crossed the line with not only the alleged behavior, the lack of comment on the behavior, and now attacking the people brought some of that behavior to light."

The allegations about Ford smoking crack surfaced when two reporters with the Toronto Star and one from the U.S. website Gawker said they saw the video but they did not obtain a copy. Ford vilified the Toronto Star, accusing the paper of trying to take him down.

Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor's forced removal from office unless he's convicted and jailed for a criminal offense. Several members of City Council are moving to strip some of his powers with a motion that would restrict the mayor's ability to remove people from his executive committee and other standing committees.

Police have not charged Ford. The mayor has called on the chief to release the tape, but police said they are prohibited from doing so because it is evidence before the courts.

Police said the video will come out when Ford's associate and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, goes to trial on drug and extortion charges. Lisi is accused of threatening two alleged gang members who had been trying to sell the video to the media.

Police have said they want to talk to the mayor, but his lawyer so far has declined.

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