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Ford takes leave to seek help after reports of new crack video, lewd audio

A series of new scandalous revelations prompted Mayor Rob Ford to take a leave of absence and 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.”

Coun. Doug Ford choked back tears on Thursday, saying he’s standing by his brother.

“This is not an easy thing for anyone to do especially when you’re the mayor of the city,” Coun. Ford said at a mid-morning news conference. “I encouraged my brother to take this time for himself and for the sake of his family.”

Coun. Ford said the mayor was very emotional when he told him his intentions following reports of the new video and audio recordings.

The prime minister even waded in saying the behaviour and comments were “troubling” but that he was “pleased” Ford was seeking help.

“The hardest thing about this is he knows he let people down. He let his family down, he let his friends down, he let his colleagues down, he let his supporters down and the people of Toronto.”

He asked Torontonians to keep the mayor and his family in their prayers, but asked that they respect Rob Ford’s privacy, for the sake of his family.

“(I will) continue to stand by my brother and his family throughout this difficult journey.”

“This is one of the toughest days of my life, but in saying that I also have a sense of relief. As an older brother, I’m relieved that Rob has faced his problems and has decided to seek professional help,” he said.

He did not take questions from reporters.

In the past, the mayor’s brother vigorously defended Ford and even said he never saw him drink. The public saw a different and very emotional side of the councillor on Thursday.

“Doug is defending his brother to his last breath and he’s loyal to him, but there’s a lot of problems there because he keeps on getting undercut by Rob,” Mark Elliot, an addictions councillor in Toronto, told CityNews reporter Tom Hayes.

“He says Rob’s OK, but then Rob does something else that’s stupid.”

Elliot said the family receives the worst brunt of addiction, the “shame, guilt, fame and fear — everything rotten — and the addict gets to go and get high.”

He said Ford has not come clean yet, but that the mayor has taken the first step with a leave of absence.

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 said 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.

Norm Kelly assumes mayoral responsibilities

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said on Thursday that he has “agreed to assume the responsibilities of mayor” during his absence, effective immediately.

“The events that have brought us together this morning can best be described as a personal tragedy and should not be seen as a crisis of government,” Kelly said at a noon news conference.

He said council work will continue to “move forward” and that it is business as usual in Toronto.

“I do not see this as a crisis of government. We’ll continue to do things as we did previously,” Kelly said, who will keep his deputy mayor title and assume charge of Ford’s staff.

City manager Joe Pennachetti said the mayor would have to return to his position for the July council meeting unless councillors approved a resolution allowing for his absence.

Kelly said the mayor’s actions are inexcusable, but that “it is fundamental that we as members of a council respect each other and the people we represent.”

He also offered his well-wishes to Ford and his family.

Mayoral candidates react to latest allegations against Mayor Ford

Toronto mayoral candidates Stintz and Olivia Chow both expressed their disappointment over the latest drug-use allegations against Mayor Ford.

At a news conference on Thursday morning, Stintz said she is was upset with the “misogynist language” used in the audio allegedly featuring Ford ranting and making lewd comments about Stintz.

Stintz said the comments left her shocked and embarrassed and she believes the city has had enough of Ford’s scandals.

“I’d f*****g jam her, but she don’t want,” Ford is heard saying. The audio was published in the Toronto Sun on Wednesday.

“Rob Ford’s comments are gross. Rob Ford is not Toronto. Toronto is tired of being gripped in this sad, sad mess,” Stintz said.

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.

“There is no place in this city for sexism and homophobia,” Stintz said on Thursday.

Stintz said she hopes he can recover but that she’s “not interested in an empty apology — we’ve heard too many of those.”

Chow told reporters she was angry when she heard the latest allegations against Ford on Wednesday night.

“Angry and disappointed that once again, he is making offensive remarks against women. This time, against Ms. Stintz. Very hurtful remarks,” Chow told reporters at a news conference, which was held shortly after.

“A mayor needs to treat everyone in the city with dignity and he certainly has not done so … he has offended many and hurt many.”

Chow said Ford it’s “obvious Mr. Ford is a sick man” and that he has “serious drug abuse problems and substance abuse problems.”

“I am sure that everyone in this city will join with me to wish him, and hope that he as a person, recovers from his sickness and his illness and his addiction.”

Chow added that Ford “had his chance” as a mayor, and that he should have stepped aside last year.

“Last year, everyone said that he needs to take responsibility, he needs to get help. He didn’t do so. It’s too late for him to take a leave of absence,” she said.

When asked if the mayor should resign, Chow said “voters should decide.”

“That’s why, in October, the residents of this city will issue a verdict on Mr. Ford and we will have a new mayor.”

Stintz echoed a similar sentiment saying the Toronto needs a new mayor, but that only voters can remove him from office. She didn’t call for his resignation.

“The only people who can remove Rob Ford from office is the people from Toronto … we will choose a better Toronto.”

Reaction from politicians & other mayoral candidates

On Wednesday evening, mayoral candidate John Tory said he was relieved the mayor said he was getting help and sent his thoughts to the Ford family; however, he called for Ford to resign.

Mayoral candidate David Soknacki called Ford a “disgrace” and also called for Ford to resign “immediately.”

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,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Thursday morning during her morning run.

“Rob Ford needs to deal with his personal issues.”

With files from Showwei Chu and Erin Criger; and Tom Hayes, CityNews.