Well, that was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who, according to a series a reports that pushed him to announce he was temporarily stepping out of the spotlight, managed to do pretty much everything, say pretty much everything and offend pretty much everyone he could in a series of audio and video recordings.
Within a period of about three hours late Wednesday night, the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail all revealed exclusive reports which detailed, among other allegations, that Ford was again recorded smoking from what was reportedly a crack pipe and, in a separate incident, made vulgar and sexist comments about mayoral candidate Karen Stintz in a drunken stupor caught on an audio recording.
The evening of bombshells appeared to be enough for Ford, for now, who announced he would be temporarily stepping down from office to seek treatment for his substance abuse issues.
Ford released this public statement:
Tonight I want to take some time to speak from my heart to the people of Toronto. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life. I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time.
Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help.
I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.
I love the people of Toronto, I love being your mayor and I hope you will continue to stand by me.
It is not entirely clear, but it appears Ford will also take a break from the campaign trail. He is currently expected, however, to remain on the Oct. 27 ballot seeking re-election. He told the Sun's Joe Warmington that people have urged him to stay on the ticket.
The series of allegations that came out on Wednesday is difficult to follow, but each case appears to surround an allegedly inebriated incident and include accusations that Ford was seen either drinking in excess or consuming drugs.
The Globe and Mail's Robyn Doolittle and Greg McArthur report that Ford was recorded smoking "what has been described as crack cocaine by a self-professed drug dealer" in his sister's basement early Saturday morning. Three video clips are apparently being shopped by the owner, who also contacted Gawker. The Globe has confirmed two reporters watched the videos and the newspaper paid $10,000 to obtain three images from them.
In one of the clips shown to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, the mayor rapidly shifts his weight back and forth on the spot, talking into his cellphone and his right arm swinging at his side. When the camera pans around the room, a man that looks like Alessandro “Sandro” Lisi, the mayor’s former driver who has been charged with drug dealing and extortion, can be seen in the background. Mr. Ford’s sister, Kathy, who has admitted in media interviews to being a drug addict, is sitting in front of her brother.
In a separate case, the Toronto Sun reports that it obtained an audio recording of Ford "ranting and swearing at an Etobicoke bar" called Sullie Gorman's on Monday night.
The newspaper says Ford can be heard, in an audio recorded by a bar patron, demanding shooters and threatening to fight people in the bar. He also complains loudly about his wife, Renata, and makes inappropriate sexual references to fellow mayoral candidate, Coun. Karen Stintz.
"I'd like to f---ing jam her, but she doesn't want ... I can't talk like this," a voice said to belong to Ford can be heard saying in an audio posted to the Sun's website.
In the audio, Ford also says he won’t vote for Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak because he agreed to fly a rainbow flag at Queen’s Park to celebrate gay rights. He later demands a “shot right now or I’ll break your f---ing legs, and refers to two bar patrons as “dagos.”
The Toronto Star followed with its own exclusive a short time later, reporting on two instances in which sources reported seeing a drunken, rambling Ford at downtown Toronto's exclusive Muzik nightclub. In one instance, a source said they saw the mayor doing cocaine. In another, the mayor reportedly disappeared into a bathroom for 45 minutes and emerged worse for wear; an attendant was called to clean vomit from the room while Ford returned to drinking.
One of those events was on March 15, a night in which an inebriated Ford was recorded outside city hall with a group of men, stumbling and swearing in front of a 13-year-old child.
According to the Star's report, Ford brought the men back to his home and a short time later rented a "party bus" to take the group to Muzik. During that evening, Ford reportedly attempted to approach troubled pop music star Justin Bieber, who was also at the club, but was rebuked when Bieber asked, "Did you bring any crack to smoke?"
During that night, Ford was reportedly heard saying, “My wife and children hate me. I am in over my head.” Now, finally, Ford is ready to publicly admit he is in over his head.
In short, it took a whirlwind of allegations and evidence to convince Ford he had a substance abuse problem. He was publicly urged to seek help months ago, and attacked and insulted those who doing the urging. He was pressed by city hall colleagues to do the same, and declared war on pretty much every member of council.
Finally, days and weeks after these epic nights of debauchery, but only moments before the details were to become public, Ford decided it was time to seek help. Is it enough? Or should Ford step down permanently and withdraw from the election?
Other mayoral candidates were quick to admonish the mayor for his behaviour, specifically the comments about Stintz, and urge he take the matter seriously.
A spokesman for Stintz, a conservative city councillor who previously sat as the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, released a statement calling Ford's behaviour disgusting.
The statement, from spokesman Karl Baldauf, reads:
The comments released tonight by Mayor Rob Ford are deeply offensive to everyone living in Toronto. That a sitting mayor would make such shocking and bigoted remarks is disgusting.
This is the not the first time that Rob Ford has made misogynistic comments. Unfortunately, there are many that keep giving Rob Ford a pass.
Karen will address these comments directly in the coming days. Tonight, the people who support Karen Stintz are rallying behind her. In addition to seeking help, we hope for a full apology from Rob Ford, not only to Karen, but to all in this great city who expect more from their mayor.”
John Tory released a statement saying he is pleased that Ford is finally seeking help, but demanding he resign from office.
Like Torontonians across the city, I am deeply disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford's behaviour. For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign.
I fully support Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly and I call on all councillors to do the same during this challenging time for our city.
Candidate David Soknacki has, for the most part, held his tongue about Ford's personal failings. But following the latest revelations, he released this terse public comment:
Rob Ford is not just a bad mayor. He is also a disgrace. Toronto can’t wait until October 27th. It is time for Rob Ford to resign, immediately.
There will be those who see Ford's decision to step down as a sign of growth, of realization that his troubles extend farther than his personal life. Some will even suggest this act of contrition will actually better his chances for re-election. There is a reason, after all, he is ready to step away from his job but not from his efforts to be returned to that job.
Others will note that Ford's sudden realization that he really isn't perfect came at a perfect time, just moments after being contacted for comment about some of the biggest bombshells of his extremely flawed mayoralty.
It could be evidence that Ford is finally ready to take responsibility, or it could be evidence that even Ford is capable of saying and doing things he's not able to spin.
We hope it's the former. But when Ford returns to the campaign trail next month claiming to be a changed man, let's remember that we've heard that before.
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