TORONTO — A new video that surfaced Thursday showed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford threatening to “murder” someone and “poke his eyes out” in a rambling rage, deepening concerns among both critics and allies that he is no longer fit to lead Canada’s largest city.
Moments after the video was posted online, the mayor told reporters that he was “extremely, extremely inebriated” in it and “embarrassed” by it. The context of the video is unknown, and it’s unclear who the target of Ford’s wrath is. The video appeared at length on the Toronto Star’s website.
City councilors moved ahead in efforts to force Ford out of office, although there is no clear legal path for doing so.
Ford’s mother defended him later Thursday, saying she has advised him to work on his “huge weight problem,” get a driver, put an alcohol detector in his car and watch the company he keeps. But she insisted that her son, who has acknowledged a drinking problem, did not need to enter rehab.
The controversy surrounding Ford escalated last week when police announced they had obtained a different, long-sought video that shows Ford smoking a crack pipe. After months of evading the question, Ford admitted Tuesday to smoking crack in a “drunken stupor” about a year ago.
Despite immense pressure, the mayor has refused to resign or take a leave of absence.
The 44-year-old Ford, who is married with two school-age children, said Thursday he made mistakes and “all I can do is reassure the people. I don’t know what to say.”
“It’s extremely embarrassing. The whole world is going to see it,” he said.
In the blurry, shaky new video, Ford paces around, frantically waves his arms and rolls up his sleeves as he says he’ll “make sure” the unknown person is dead.
Ford tells another person in the room that he wants to “kill” someone. “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.”
The Toronto Star said that it bought the video for $5,000 from “a source who filmed it from someone else’s computer.” The newspaper said it was told “the person with the computer was there in the room.”
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.”
But Ford lawyer Dennis Morris told The Associated Press the context of the video “is skeletal.” ”Was it taken eight, 10 months ago or a short time ago?” he said.
Earlier Thursday, Morris said he was in talks with the police for Ford to view the video that appears show the mayor smoking crack. Morris said Ford would not answer questions.
Police obtained that video during a drug investigation into the mayor’s friend and occasional driver, and they have said they are prohibited from releasing the video because it is evidence before the courts. Police have not charged Ford, saying the video doesn’t provide enough evidence against him.
Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offence.
Ford, who grew up in a wealthy and politically influential family, was elected to City Hall three years ago on conservative support from Toronto’s outer suburbs.
But city councilors say they have been mostly working around him since he took office. The mayor’s power is more limited in Toronto, a city of 2.7 million people, than in many large U.S. cities; he has just one vote on a council of 44 members.
City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong said Thursday he plans to amend a motion that would ask Ford to take a leave of absence. The amendment, which could be voted on Wednesday, takes the unprecedented step of asking the province of Ontario to pass legislation to remove the mayor if he does not agree to take a leave of absence.
The province has no plans to step in and amend the law, Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey said Thursday.
City Councilor Giorgio Mammoliti, a Ford ally, urged the mayor to enter rehab and said in a statement he fears “that if the mayor does not get help now, he will succumb to health issues related to addiction.”
In a television interview, Ford’s mother and sister acknowledged he had problems but insisted he was not an addict and defended his ability to continue as mayor.
His mother, Diane, said he did not need to enter rehab, adding that he should work on his “weight problem” first.
“If he was really, really in dire straits and really needed help, I’d be the first one … I’d put him in my care and take him there,” she told CP24 television.
The mayor’s sister Kathy added, “Robbie is not a drug addict. I know, because I’m a former addict.”
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has said police have a second tape, but he has declined to discuss what’s on it. Police spokesman Mark Pugash told the AP the video released Thursday is not the tape Blair talked about.