Two more staffers from Mayor Rob Ford’s office have quit their posts at city hall, but Ford brushed off the resignations Thursday, saying “things are going great and we’re doing fine.”
Ford’s policy advisor Brian Johnston, who also handles council relations, and Ford’s executive assistant Kia Nejatian both resigned on Thursday, joining three others who have left since last week.
The Mayor’s office confirmed the resignations in a release, and Ford addressed the departures at a 4:30 p.m. news conference.
“I want to thank them for their service, they have been valuable members of my team,” he said. “I’ve always said to my staff if a new opportunity arises, take it.”
When pressed with questions about the alleged crack video that preceded the string of staff departures, Ford refused to answer, saying, “Anything else? Anything else,” over and over again.
Ford then left the podium, leaving his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, to deny a Toronto Star report that alleged the mayor told senior aides not to worry about the alleged crack video, because he knew where it was. The Star cited anonymous sources, and CityNews has not verified any of the allegations against the mayor.
“This is another false accusation. This is the Toronto Star trying to keep the story alive,” Coun. Ford said. “In my opinion, we have a disgruntled employee, ex-employee I should say, that obviously is upset that’s thrown these false accusations out.”
In response to the escalating turmoil, Premier Kathleen Wynne said she may take necessary action to restore order to Toronto council.
“I believe what is happening now at city hall is interrupting the business of city hall,” she said at Queen’s Park.
“The mayor needs to deal with his personal issues,” Wynne said. “The lack of having dealt with them is creating a lot of that confusion.”
The City of Toronto Act and Municipal Elections Act would both need to be re-written for Wynne to oust Ford.
The mayor shot back saying Wynne should, “…take care of the problems she has at Queen’s Park right now.”
Coun. Doug Ford, took a more aggressive stance against Wynne’s comments. “I find it ironic that an unelected premier that’s up to her eyeballs in scandals, wasting billions of dollars, of tax dollars…has the nerve, the hypocrisy, to come and criticize the mayor.”
“I have one message to the premiere,” he said. “Get your own house in order…before you have the nerve to say anything about the mayor.”
Mayor Ford also reiterated that he would not step down, and said the work at city hall was getting done. “Phone calls are being made, emails are being responded to,” he stressed.
Ford also vowed that he would run again in the next municipal election.
“I guarantee my name will be on the ballot. I can’t wait to get on the campaign trail,” Ford said.
On Monday, the mayor’s press secretary George Christopoulos and his deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom quit. And Ford’s chief of staff Mark Towhey was fired last Thursday.
— towhey (@towhey) May 30, 2013
Ford is embroiled in a scandal over an alleged video of him apparently smoking crack cocaine, which he denied after a week-long silence. A report his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, used to deal hashish in the 1980s also surfaced on Saturday, but he has categorically denied the Globe and Mail allegation.
With files from The Canadian Press
Cynthia Mulligan is at city hall with the latest. Read her tweets below.