TORONTO — A new video that surfaced today shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in a rambling rage, using threatening words including “kill” and “murder,” as the saga that has gripped Canadians for months took yet another twist.
The mayor told reporters moments after the video was posted online that he was “extremely, extremely inebriated” in it and “embarrassed” by it. The context of the video, which appeared today on the Toronto Star’s website, is unknown and it’s unclear who the target of Ford’s wrath is. It prompted another round of calls for Ford to step down.
It’s been a whirlwind of a week for Ford, who on Tuesday admitted to smoking crack in a “drunken stupor” about a year ago. Police said last week they had obtained a different, long-sought video that shows Ford smoking a crack pipe.
Police obtained that video in the course of a massive drug investigation into the mayor’s friend and occasional driver.
Despite immense pressure from allies and critics, the mayor of North America’s fourth largest city has refused to resign or take a leave of absence.
Ford said today he made mistakes and “all I can do is reassure the people. I don’t know what to say.”
“When you are in that state ... I hope none of you have ever or will ever be in that state,” Ford said.
“It’s extremely embarrassing. The whole world is going to see it.”
At one point in the new video, Ford says he’ll “make sure” the unknown person is dead.
A visibly agitated Ford tells another person in the room, possibly the man filming the video, that he wants to “kill” someone in an expletive-laced rant. “Cause I’m going to kill that (expletive) guy,” Ford says. “No holds barred brother. He dies or I die.”
At one point he says “My brothers are, don’t tell me we’re liars, thieves, birds?” and then later refers to “80-year-old birds.”
City Councilor James Pasternak urged Ford to make a “dignified exit.”
“The video is very disturbing,” he said. “It’s very upsetting, it’s very sad.”
Ford lawyer Dennis Morris told The Associated Press the context of the video “is skeletal.”
“What we have to do is find out when it was taken,” he said. “Was it taken eight, 10 months ago or a short time ago? I’m going to try to find that out too. Maybe the Toronto Star knows better.”
Asked if Ford told him about the tape, Morris said: “I can’t comment, but I don’t think we really know.”
Earlier today, Morris said he was in talks with the police for Ford to view the video that appears to show the mayor smoking crack, as city councilors stepped up their efforts to force him from office.
The mayor’s travails were taking their toll on his supporters, meanwhile, as Canada’s finance minister became emotional when asked about Ford, who acknowledged this week for the first time that he smoked crack “probably a year ago” when he was in a “drunken stupor.”
Police are seeking to question Ford, whose attorney Dennis Morris declined further comment because he “didn’t want to jeopardize anything.”
Morris previously said Ford would be willing to go view the tape but would not answer questions. Police have not charged Ford, saying the video didn’t provide enough evidence against him.
A police spokesman declined to comment.
Even before the new video’s emergence, members of Toronto’s City Council were already trying to ramp up their campaign to force Ford from office, despite facing steep hurdles. Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offence.
City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford’s executive committee, said today he plans to amend a motion he has filed that would ask Ford to take a leave of absence. The amendment takes the unprecedented step of asking the province of Ontario to pass legislation to remove the mayor should he not agree to take a leave of absence.
The province has said it has no plans to amend the law, but the councilor was undeterred.
“Quite frankly extraordinary measures are needed in extraordinary times,” Minnan-Wong said.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said other members of the executive committee won’t support the motion, a measure that could be voted on next Wednesday.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said she’s concerned that Ford’s personal issues were making it difficult for the city to carry on normally. But she said it was up to police, the courts or the mayor to take action.
The scandal was taking its toll on allies like Canada’s finance minister, longtime Ford family friend Jim Flaherty. He was visibly upset when asked about Ford today.
“At the end of the day he has to make his own decision about what he ought to do,” Flaherty said. “Certainly his family is helping him and wishing him well. That’s all I can say.”
Ford acknowledged a drinking problem for the first time Sunday, saying on his radio show that he was “hammered” in public at a street festival in August and “out of control” drunk, carrying a half empty bottle of brandy around city hall after St. Patrick’s Day last year. He then made his stunning confession to reporters Tuesday that he had smoked crack while drunk.
The mayor has called on police 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 associate Alexander Lisi goes to trial on drug and extortion charges.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has also said police have a second tape, but he has declined to discuss what’s on it.