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Council makes Ford lame-duck mayor, stripping more powers

Mayor Rob Ford speaks to city council members while wearing a Toronto Argonauts jersey on Nov. 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

City councillors voted overwhelmingly to strip Rob Ford of more of his mayoral powers Monday — a move a fuming Ford likened to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and a declaration of war.

In the wake of an ever-evolving crack cocaine scandal, councillors voted to strip Ford of much of his remaining powers, slash his office budget and cut his staff.

“This folks, reminds me of when I was watching with my brother when Saddam attacked Kuwait and President [George H.W.] Bush said, ‘I warn you, I warn you, I warn you, do not,’” Ford told council.

“Well, folks…you guys have just attacked Kuwait.”

“Mark my words, friends. This is going to be outright war in the next election.”

His brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said it was a personal attack on the mayor by city councillors.

“If they had a choice to do this to Rob Ford, they would’ve done it the day after they were elected because they don’t like Rob Ford.”

Ford called it a sad day for the country.

“Their democratic rights have absolutely been trampled all over.”

Ford blasted what he called a “coup d’etat.”

The vote followed a boisterous and passionate debate, which included the Ford brothers being embroiled in heated shouting matches with members of the public.

The mayor knocked Coun. Pam McConnell on the ground as he appeared to charge a heckler.

“He did run through me and over me and I got knocked off my feet,” she said.

“This is a seat of democracy. It’s not a football field.”

The incident prompted yet another apology from Ford, who at one point was seen making drinking and driving gestures directed at a councillor police had warned about impaired driving.

Monday’s vote hands many of Ford’s duties to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Kelly will replace Ford as the head of the executive committee, manage the mayor’s office staff that no longer work for Ford and oversee about 60 per cent of the mayor’s office budget.

Ford will be left with about eight staffers.

“The mayor apparently wants to wage war and I would rather wage peace,” Kelly said after the vote.

He outlined his goals.

“First, to restore the confidence of the public and the government in Toronto, secondly, to repair the damage done to the relationships between members of the council and finally, to focus on the business of the city.”

Council had already passed a pair of motions on Friday stripping Ford of his ability to appoint key committee chairs or to exercise emergency powers.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said he is proud of his fellow city councillors.

“All of a council spoke today with a massive, massive voice. This wasn’t a close vote,” he said.

Coun. John Parker said he hopes it demonstrates to Toronto residents that city councillors are as concerned about the mayor’s conduct as they are.

“I hope it sets a precedent for any future mayor — that if they carry on the way this mayor has — they can expect similar treatment,” he said.

Ford admitted last week he has purchased illegal drugs while in office, and one day later sparked outrage by making a crude sexual comment on live television that he later apologized for.

The mayor has also admitted to smoking crack cocaine during one of this “drunken stupors.”

Ford has denied he is an alcoholic or a drug addict, saying he is getting professional help.

Reports surfaced in May of a video that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine. In late October, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said investigators recovered the alleged footage from a hard drive seized during a guns and drugs investigation.

Ford has not been criminally charged and the allegations made in police documents have not been proven in court.

CityNews and 680News reporters live tweeted the council meetings.

Listen to the full interview with Norm Kelly below:

With files from The Canadian Press