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Published: Tuesday, 11/5/2013

TORONTO

Mayor admits smoking crack while drunk

Leader of Canada’s largest city vows he won’t exit his post

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
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TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that he smoked crack “probably a year ago” when he was in a “drunken stupor,” but he refused to resign as leader of Canada’s largest city despite immense pressure.

Mr. Ford, 44, said he loves his job and “for the sake of the taxpayers, we must get back to work immediately.”

Allegations that the mayor had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in news reports in May. Mr. Ford initially insisted the video did not exist, sidestepped questions about whether he had ever used crack, and rebuffed growing calls to leave office.

The mayor was forced to backtrack after police said they had obtained a copy of the video in the course of a drug investigation against a friend of Mr. Ford’s.

“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Mr. Ford told reporters Tuesday. “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.”

Later at a news conference, he said acknowledging the drug use made him feel as if he had “1,000 pounds off my back.”

Authorities have said the video, which has not been released publicly, does not constitute enough evidence to charge the mayor with a crime.

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

Several Toronto city councilors called on Mr. Ford to step down, and Canada’s justice minister urged him to get help.

Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he is convicted and jailed for a criminal offense.

City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Mr. Ford’s executive committee, said he would put forward a motion asking Mr. Ford to take a leave of absence.

Councilor Jaye Robinson said the mayor needs to step aside and address his problems.

“We have become a laughingstock of North America, if not the world,” Ms. Robinson said.

The crack episode is not the first time Mr. Ford has been forced to admit drug use.

During the campaign, he acknowledged after repeated denials that he was busted for marijuana possession in Florida in 1999.

Mr. Ford apologized over the weekend for excessive drinking. He said he should not have been “hammered” drunk in public when he appeared at a street festival in August, calling it “pure stupidity.”



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