Toronto city council strips Mayor Rob Ford of some of his powers amid widening drug scandal

  • Article by: ROB GILLIES , Associated Press
  • Updated: November 15, 2013 - 5:55 PM

TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford vowed Friday to take City Council to court after it voted overwhelmingly to strip him of some of his powers over his admitted drug use, public drinking and increasingly erratic behavior.

Then, in a flash of remorse, the 44-year-old Ford declared: "If I would have had a mayor conducting themselves the way I have, I would have done exactly the same thing."

The motion, approved in a 39-3 vote, suspends Ford's authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. The council also voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency. The effort is to continue Monday when the council moves to strip the mayor of most of his remaining powers.

The votes capped another frenzied week of twists and turns in a scandal that has consumed Canada's largest city and financial capital for months.

Newly released court documents show the mayor became the subject of a police investigation after news reports surfaced in May that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine. In interviews with police, former staffers accused the mayor of frequently drinking, driving while intoxicated and making sexual advances toward a female staffer.

Ford stirred up further controversy and even offended Toronto's football team when he wore a team jersey while making a profanity-laced statement about the allegations Thursday.

Most city councilors are frustrated by Ford's refusal to step aside, but they lack the authority to force him from office unless he is convicted of a crime and jailed.

Ford's mood swings were on full display Friday as he defiantly vowed to fight the motion in court, then conceded he understood why the council took the measures.

"I'm not mad at anybody. I take full responsibility," Ford said.

The mayor, a conservative who touts his efforts to curb public spending and keep taxes low, later made it clear he intends to seek re-election next year.

"Councilors spoke today. The taxpayers of this great city will have their say Oct. 27," Ford told a crush of reporters at City Hall, referring to next year's municipal elections. Nearby, a few hecklers shouted, "Resign! Resign!"

The mayor of North America's fourth-largest city said he didn't care that many council members were laughing at him, noting he won a large mandate in the 2010 election and was laughed at for years as a councilman before being elected mayor.

"They laughed at me for 13 years but fortunately 387,000 people never laughed at me. We'll see what happens" the mayor said.

Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, accused the council of attempting an illegal "coup," while his brother and adviser, councilman Doug Ford, called him "the mayor of the people" and said the rights of those who voted for him were being trampled.

Friday's vote came a day after yet another series of antics that outraged city councilors.

"We need to take away his power for the good of the city," said Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former ally. "The tide has turned and there are very few people that are prepared to defend him given his vulgar comments and his admission that not only does he takes drugs but that he seems to be comfortable drinking and getting behind the wheel."

On Thursday, Ford spouted an obscenity while denying that he pressured a female employee for oral sex, saying on live television that he was "happily married" and using crude language to assert that he enjoys enough oral sex at home.

"If it wasn't for that stupid comment he made yesterday no one would have thought this (the council's action) was appropriate," his attorney Morris told The Associated Press.

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