Motion aims to prevent Ford firing those who speak against him after stream of scandals over lewd language, booze and drugs
Toronto’s city council is introducing a motion on Friday to strip its mayor, Rob Ford, of some of his powers as he insisted he would not resign despite the relentless stream of scandals over his lewd language, drinking and drug habits.
The proposal follows yet another a day of shocking behaviour in which Ford denied he pressured a female employee for oral sex – declaring on live television that he didn’t want to “eat her pussy” in remarks that fuelled further calls for him to step aside. At the same press conference he threatened to take legal action against former members of staff who made claims to police about his drinking and drug use.
The gaffe-prone mayor drew gasps from reporters when he used lewd language to deny the latest claims – then added that as a happily married man he had “more than enough to eat at home”.
Ford later apologised for using “graphic” language and said he wanted to reassure people that he was seeking treatment after revelations of drug and alcohol abuse.
The allegations add to a growing list of admitted or alleged indiscretions, from smoking crack cocaine to extreme drunkenness and hiring prostitutes.
Friday’s motion would suspend Ford’s authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. John Filion, the councillor who introduced the motion, has said the goal is to prevent Ford from firing executive committee members who speak out against him. Councillors are also considering stripping Ford’s authority to set the city council’s agenda.
Councillor Karen Stintz announced the city has temporarily suspended all school trips to city hall because staff deemed them unsafe for the children.
Ford used a typical mix of contrition and defiance in several public appearances on Thursday. At a city council session, outraged councillors turned their backs each time he spoke and again called on him to step aside.
He later apologised for his remarks, explaining that he was pushed “over the line” by newly released court documents that included allegations against him involving cocaine, escorts and prostitution. He called the allegations “100% lies”.
He said his integrity as a father and husband had been attacked, prompting him to “see red”.
“I acted on complete impulse in my remarks,” Ford said.
“I wish you to know I am receiving support from a team of healthcare professionals and I am taking accountability and receiving advice from people with expertise. I do not wish to comment on the particulars of the support. I wish you to understand, I am accepting responsibility for the challenges I face. I would ask you, please please respect my family’s privacy.”
The mayor earlier said he would take legal action against his former chief of staff, Mark Towhey, and two other aides over their interviews with police that were detailed in court documents released on Wednesday.
Ford did not specify what the aides might have said that was untrue. He also said he would take action against a waiter who said he believed Ford and a woman were snorting cocaine in a private room at a restaurant.
“I have to take legal action against the waiter who said I was doing lines,” he said. “Outright lies, that is not true.”
An ardent fan of Canadian football, Ford wore a Toronto Argonauts jersey and cowboy boots at the council session on Thursday, prompting a protest from the team. “These latest remarks, while wearing our team’s jersey, are particularly disappointing,” the team said in a statement.
“This is one of the most stubborn, pig-headed people I think we have ever seen,” said councillor Janet Davis. “He seems to have no self-awareness, no core of moral character. It is stunning.”
The Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne, said on Thursday that the provincial government would be willing to step in and approve legislation to remove the mayor but only if the council voted unanimously to seek that step and the provincial legislature supported it.
City councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong had considered introducing a motion asking the province to intervene but decided against it because of lack of support from councillors who feared setting a dangerous precedent.
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