TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted during a heated City Council debate Wednesday that he has bought illegal drugs while in office but 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, insisting he is “a positive role model for kids.”
The mayor made the admission under questioning by a former ally, Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong. Ford publicly acknowledged last week that he smoked crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor” last year, but his comments Wednesday marked the first time he has admitted buying illegal drugs.
Ford paused for a long time after Minnan-Wong asked him if he had bought illicit narcotics in the past two years. Then he replied, “Yes, I have.”
“I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it,” Ford said.
But he then turned defiant, saying he is not an addict and rebuffing suggestions from council members that he seek help. “I am not leaving here,” Ford said. “I’m going to sit here and going to attend every meeting.”
Moments earlier, all but two of the 43 councilors present for the debate voted to accept an open letter asking Ford to step aside. Most also stood up to urge him to take a leave of absence.
Although it was a stark demonstration of his political isolation, the vote was merely symbolic because the City Council does not have the authority to force the mayor from office unless he is convicted of a crime.
Ford suggested that many council members are on drugs and that they all know stories about each other. But, he added, “I’m not a rat.”