Toronto Mayor, Robert Ford, has been part of a variety of personal and work-related controversies throughout his political career. Most recently, he has become the subject of allegations of substance abuse which have been widely reported in the Canadian and international media.
In May 2013, the American website Gawker and the Toronto Star reported that they had viewed a cell-phone video that appeared to show Ford smoking crack cocaine while angrily commenting on political issues. However, neither was able to acquire to acquire the video and release it to the public.
When Toronto City Council’s executive committee publicly asked Ford to respond to the apparent video, Ford addressed the Canadian media by saying, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist.”
Over the next four months, Ford consistently denied the existence of the video and his use of crack cocaine. The crisis resulted in a half-dozen of his staff resigning. Ford fired his chief of staff, Mark Towhey, with several reports stating that he was fired for allegedly telling him to get help at a rehab center. The situation only got worse for Mayor Ford.
On October 31, 2013, Toronto police announced that they were in possession of the alleged video that shows Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Toronto’s police chief, Bill Blair, said that he viewed a video that “depicts images that are consistent with those previously reported in the press. It’s safe to say the mayor does appear in the video.”
At his city hall office, Ford was forced to briefly address the media on the police’s announcement.
“Everyone has seen the allegations. I wish I could come out and defend myself but I can’t. It’s before the courts. That’s all I can say right now. No reason to resign.
Finally, on Nov. 5, Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine and apologized to the public. He concluded his announcement by saying that he would stay in office and even run for re-election.
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine but am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago. To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down and I can’t do anything else but apologize and apologize and I’m so sorry. I know I have to regain your trust and your confidence,” said Ford.
By Nov. 15, two separate motions were passed by the Toronto City Council that removed key aspects of Ford’s power as Mayor of Toronto, transferring them to the deputy mayor. He has lost the power to govern the city in a state of emergency and the power to appoint and dismiss the chairs of city committees.
Millions around the world have called for Ford’s resignation, yet he insists that he will stay in office and continue to do his job. In fact, Ford told US television networks CNN and Fox News that he wishes to run for Prime Minister.
Senior Connor Clifford feels embarrassed as a Canadian that Ford is an elected official.
“I think the general consensus is that he is an idiot. If he has to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress of his job, then he shouldn’t be in office,” said Clifford.
Smoking crack cocaine, drunk driving, a videotape threatening to kill someone, and stripped of most of his authority, what else could go wrong for Mayor Ford?