Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted during a heated City Council debate that he bought illegal drugs while in office, but adamantly refused to step down despite calls from nearly every councilor to take a leave of absence and get help.
“I’m most definitely keeping this job,” the 44-year-old Ford said on Wednesday, insisting he was “a positive role model for kids.”
“I am not an addict of any sort, so I am not quite sure why you are saying that I need help,” Ford said.
Asked if he had bought illegal drugs in the past two years, he replied somberly: “Yes, I have.”
Ford, elected in 2010 on a promise to end the City Hall “gravy train”, admitted last week that he had smoked crack cocaine in “one of my drunken stupors”.
Wednesday’s call for him to step aside came in council’s first meeting since that admission.
“Our city’s reputation has been damaged and continues to suffer,” City Councillor Jaye Robinson read from a non binding petition signed by 30 of the city’s 44 councillors, and passed by a vote of 41 to two.
“Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence to address your challenges privately outside of the public eye.”
Councillors will vote later on a separate motion that asks Ford both to take a leave of absence and to apologise for “misleading” Toronto residents.
Council has no power to force the mayor to step down or take a break unless he is convicted of a crime, and Ford insists he has no plans to go, or to seek treatment.
“I am not an addict of any sort, so I am not quite sure why you are saying that I need help,” he told councillors during an hour-long grilling that centred on his fitness to remain the city’s chief magistrate.
“I can understand how people would perceive my behaviour,” he added. “The reason I drank or did drugs was not because of stress, it was out of sheer stupidity. That’s all it was.”