After many heated exchanges city council voted in favour of asking Mayor Rob Ford to take a temporary leave of absence.
The motion was brought forth on Wednesday by Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong and caused a public flogging from councillors – requiring two time outs before the lunch recess.
The five-part motion also asked for the mayor to apologize for misleading the public on the existence of the infamous crack video, to co-operate fully with the police investigation into the matter and to apologize for writing a letter of recommendation to friend Alexander (Sandro) Lisi.
Council voted 37-5 in favour of the leave of absence. There was no designated time frame specified in the motion for how long the leave of absence should be and Ford doesn’t have to follow council’s direction on the matter.
Before the vote, Ford tried to put forth a motion asking for all members of city council to undergo hair, drug and alcohol testing by Dec. 1. The motion was determined to be out of order but can be brought forth at the next city council meeting, said speaker Francis Nunziata.
Ford then apologized to city council.
“I think I’ve said everything I really could say today – there’s not much to add,” said Ford. “I really f-ed up. That’s it. I apologize. I’m sorry.”
Ford then said that he believes he has done a “great job” as mayor saving taxpayers money and that he will continue in his position.
“I’m not going to miss a meeting. I’ve never missed a meeting,” he stated.
Throughout the lengthy debate tensions between Minnan-Wong and Ford reached a boiling point.
The embattled mayor admitted during angry exchanges with Minnan-Wong that he has bought illegal drugs while in office.
“Mr. Mayor do you still have zero tolerance for drugs, guns and gangs?” Minnan-Wong asked.
“Absolutely,” Ford said.
“Can you tell me how that applies to you?” Minnan-Wong continued.
“I just answered that question,” Ford said.
Minnan-Wong then asked the mayor, “Have you purchased illegal drugs within the last two years?”
After a long pause, Ford responded: “Yes, I have.”
Toronto police told CityNews investigators will be “made aware” of Ford’s statement.
Despite the admission, Ford insisted yet again that he was not an addict, and repeated he would not resign or step aside to seek help.
Minnan-Wong said “it shouldn’t have had to come to this,” and that Mayor Ford should have sought help after admitting he smoked crack cocaine.
When the floor was open to questions, the mayor’s brother Doug Ford angrily and repeatedly asked if Minnan-Wong had ever smoked marijuana. He accused all councillors of acting “holier-than-thou.”
Eventually, speaker Nunziata turned off his microphone, but Doug Ford continued to yell. The mayor then got up and strode toward Minnan-Wong, and Doug had to physically restrain his brother.
The two then left council chambers and the meeting went on lunch break.
When the debate resumed, councillors began debate on Coun. Gord Perks proposal that Minnan-Wong’s motion be brought to the integrity commissioner.
Perks wanted Janet Leiper to investigate whether Ford violated the code of conduct and report back by Feb. 19, 2014, with her recommendations for “appropriate penalties or sanctions.”
The motion failed to pass, with council voting 18 for and 26 against.
Click here to read our preview of the meeting.
The mayor also responded to questions from a sympathetic Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, saying he’s not a drug addict or addicted to illicit drugs.
“I can assure you I’m not an alcoholic. I am not a drug addict. Have I drank? Have I done drugs? Yes I have,” Ford said.
Ford addresses infamous photo
For the first time, the mayor also addressed the infamous photo of himself and three men at what police have said was a crack house.
“Councillor, this one isolated picture in front of the garage was a one-off picture. I had never met those three men in my life,” Ford told Mammoliti.
“They came out and asked me to take a picture with them. And that’s the God honest truth.”
Ford, who on the advice of his lawyer is refusing to talk to police and is also not answering reporters’ questions, spoke in council about his admitted drug use.
Minnan-Wong and the mayor also had an earlier spat, when Minnan-Wong said he felt threatened by Ford.
Minnan-Wong, who was behind the motion urging Ford to step aside, said he was approaching the speaker when the mayor stood in his way and blocked him in a threatening way.
“The mayor stopped me, blocked my path; he physically stood in my way in a threatening way. And other councillors saw this. He ordered me to sit down. He said why don’t you move your motion?” Minnan-Wong said.
When council returned after a five-minute recess, the mayor refused to apologize and said, “I didn’t threaten Coun. Minnan-Wong in any way, shape or form.”
Ford later inadvertently apologized, Nunziata accepted the apology, and the session resumed.
Before the debate began, Coun. Jaye Robinson introduced a petition signed by 29 of 44 councillors urging the mayor to take a break from council to sort out his affairs.
“Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence to address your challenges privately outside of the public eye,” she said.
Robinson, who received applause after she read her petition, said Toronto’s reputation has been damaged, continues to suffer and that it has become difficult to focus on the pressing issues facing council.
“We believe that the majority or Torontonians share our view and that city council will excuse any absences you require to address the situation with finality,” she said.
A Superior Court judge released Wednesday afternoon previously censored information on a police investigation into the “crack” video.
Parts of the 474-page police document released on Oct. 31 showed frequent contacts between Ford and his friend Alexander Lisi.
The document, containing allegations not proven in court, was filed by police to get search warrants in Lisi’s case.
Justice Ian Nordheimer ruled only sections involving the mayor’s wife, other people’s personal information, and parts prejudicial to Lisi’s right to a fair trial should stay secret.
With files from The Canadian Press