Alongside another series of bombshell developments, Rob Ford announced Wednesday night he is taking a leave of absence to seek “immediate” professional help for what he calls a “problem with alcohol.”
The leave came amid reports of another video of him purportedly smoking crack cocaine — allegedly shot this past weekend — as well as an audio tape featuring Ford ranting and making lewd comments about mayoral candidate Karen Stinz and his wife, Renata.
“It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life,” Ford said in a statement released Wednesday night.
“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.”
The Toronto Sun reports Ford’s leave will be for at least a month. In an interview, his lawyer Dennis Morris said his name will stay on ballot for the Oct. 27 mayoral election.
On Thursday morning, the City of Toronto confirmed it received official written notice from the mayor that he’s taking a leave of absence.
CityNews reports Ford left his family home in a waiting grey car just after 7:30 a.m., without answering reporters’ questions. The vehicle — with luggage already inside — driven away by his sister Kathy Ford’s son, Mikey, followed by a red car. According to reports, a passport form was spotted on the dashboard. It’s not known where he was heading.
Latest drug-use allegations
On Wednesday evening, the Globe and Mail said two of its reporters had seen a video showing the mayor taking a drag from a small copper-coloured pipe and exhaling a cloud of smoke.
The newspaper reports that the video was filmed in Ford’s sister’s basement Saturday morning by a self-professed drug dealer.
The Globe also stated that a man who looks like Alessandro “Sandro” Lisi can be seen in the background of the video.
U.S. site Gawker published still images of Ford from the alleged video on Wednesday night, claiming the photos came from a source who offered to sell them the video. Gawker says the source said crack was in the pipe. The Globe and Mail published the same photos, explaining that they paid $10,000 for the images.
It’s the second video to emerge of Ford allegedly smoking drugs. The first, which surfaced roughly a year ago, was the flashpoint in a massive scandal involving the mayor that made international headlines.
On Thursday morning, Toronto police confirmed to 680News that they’re looking into the possibility of a second alleged video of Ford smoking drugs. Police said they’re “interested to see the new information.”
Lewd audio of Ford ranting
Meanwhile, another recording was revealed on Wednesday night when the Toronto Sun published profanity-lade, lewd audio of Ford ranting. The audio was recorded on Monday night in an Etobicoke bar, the newspaper claims and contains comments about mayoral contender Stintz, as well as comments about his wife.
“I’d rather lose to Olivia Chow than to anyone man,” Ford is heard saying in the audio. “Once I’m gone, I’m gone. I’m going to California.”
“How about Karen Stintz?,” someone asked.
“I’d f*****g jam her, but she don’t want,” Ford replied.
Click here to listen to the full audio.
A statement later released by Stintz’s campaign team read: “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.”
It later added: “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.”
The audio was reportedly recorded in a bar called Sullie Gorman’s, which is in a strip mall on Royal York Road, north of Eglinton Avenue West, near Ford’s mother’s house and across from a park named after his late father.
Reports of Ford doing cocaine
Separately, The Toronto Star reported on Wednesday that Ford’s latest “spiral” started at Toronto’s Musik nightclub on St. Patrick’s Day weekend more than a month ago. The newspaper reports that a witness saw the mayor do lines of cocaine at the club.
“My wife and children hate me. I am in over my head,” Ford reportedly said at the club.
The Star also reports that Justin Bieber was at the club and apparently jokingly asked Ford if he had any crack to smoke.
The newspaper also reports that Ford has close ties to the club’s owner, who reportedly provided alcohol to the last two Ford Fests, which are parties for Ford supporters that include free drinks. The owner of Musik is reportedly listed as a registered lobbyist who seeks improvements to the club from city council. The club is located on city property on the Exhibition grounds.
Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris said the mayor “realizes he needs help for substance abuse,” but would not say which substance his client is seeking treatment for or what steps he will take.
“In my eyes, he should announce those steps to the public in the near future,” Morris said.
Reaction from politicians & mayoral candidates
In addition to Stintz’s statements, mayoral candidate John Tory said he was relieved the mayor said he was getting help and sent his thoughts to the Ford family.
However, Tory then called for Ford to resign.
“Like Torontonians across the city I am, nonetheless, equally disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford’s latest behaviour and, for the good of the city I call on Mayor Ford to resign from his office as mayor,” Tory said on Wednesday night.
Mayoral candidate David Soknacki also called for Ford to resign.
“Rob Ford is not just a bad mayor. He is also a disgrace,” said Soknacki. “Toronto can’t wait until October 27th. It is time for Rob Ford to resign, immediately.”
Olivia Chow, another frontrunner, is expected to comment later Thursday.
On Thursday morning, Premier Kathleen Wynne took a break from her morning run to talk to reporters about Thursday’s budget and the latest Ford scandal.
“This has been a distraction in the city for a long time,” Wynne said.
“I’ve been dealing with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly since he was given decision-making authority — I think that was the right decision, and Rob Ford needs to deal with his personal issues.”
“I have been and will continue to deal with Deputy Mayor Kelly,” she added.
Ford’s previous allegations
Ford has denied allegations that he is addicted to drugs or alcohol, though he has admitted having used crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor” during his tenure.
Shortly afterward, city council voted to relieve Ford of many of his mayoral powers.
The mayor also admitted he had been drinking during an incident in which he was filmed using Jamaican swear words and other profanities at a Toronto restaurant.
He vowed last year that he had given up alcohol — part of a campaign to rehabilitate his image in light of his admission.
His family had previously backed up his assertions and his decision not to resign or take an official leave.
Ford pictured with a pipe
Sullie Gorman’s, the Etobicoke bar, where the profanity-lade audio of Mayor Rob Ford was recorded. 680News/Carl Hanstke.
With files from The Canadian Press