November 18, 2013

Toronto council strips mayor of most powers

Rob Ford, who was caught smoking crack and is accused of sexual harassment, calls the move a ‘coup d’etat.’

By David Crary And Rob Gillies
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Toronto City Council lawyers, right, look on as Mayor Rob Ford speaks in the council chamber as Councillors look to pass motions to limit his powers in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Rob Ford faced another likely setback as the City Council voted to strip many of his remaining powers in a heated council meeting where he knocked over a woman councilor. Ford called the effort a “coup d’etat” and challenged the council to call snap elections.

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young

Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former Ford ally, said it’s about his conduct.

“This is about embarrassing the city, his involvement with gangs, his involvement with crack cocaine. This is about his admission that he gets behind the wheel while drinking,” Minnan-Wong said.

“He’s the worst spokesman for the city of Toronto right now.”

Toronto, a city of 2.7 million people, has been abuzz with the Ford melodrama since May, when news outlets reported that he had been caught on video smoking crack.

Recently released court documents show Ford became the subject of a police investigation after those reports surfaced. Ford, who denied there was any incriminating video, now acknowledges the reports were accurate.

In interviews with police, former Ford staffers have made further accusations, saying the mayor drank heavily, sometimes drove while intoxicated and pressured a female staffer to engage in oral sex.

On Thursday, Ford spouted an obscenity on live television while denying the sex allegation, saying he was “happily married” and using crude language to assert that he enjoys enough oral sex at home.

Last week, after admitting to excessive drinking and buying illegal drugs, Ford disclosed that he is seeking medical help. But he and his family insist he is not an addict and does not need rehab.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper — like Ford a Conservative — was in Toronto on Monday to meet with area Parliament members from his party. Harper’s office issued a statement which said the latest allegations against Ford “are troubling.”

“Our Government does not condone illegal drug use, especially by elected officials while in office,” it said.

Ford and his brother made their debut on a current events television show broadcast Monday night called “Ford Nation” on the conservative tabloid Sun News Network in Canada.

Rob Ford told viewers they would see a change in him over the next few months. “I’ll take a urine sample right now,” Ford said on the show which was taped Sunday.

Ford later laughed when “Ford Nation” showed a clip from U.S. comedian Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” that lampooned the mayor’s recent remarks about oral sex.

With Ford refusing to step aside, even temporarily, the City Council took its first steps to weaken his powers on Friday, voting 39-3 to suspend his authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and the executive committee. The council also voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency.

Ford was elected three years ago with overwhelming support from Toronto’s conservative-leaning outer suburbs, where many voters felt angry about what they considered wasteful spending and elitist politics at City Hall. He campaigned on promises to “stop the gravy train” by curbing public spending and keeping taxes low.

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