Three Toronto councillors have gone public with concerns about Mayor Rob Ford’s alleged alcohol problem.
The Toronto Star, which claims an impaired Ford was asked to leave the Toronto Garrison Ball in February, shared details of an email sent by Councillor Paul Ainslie to members of the ball’s organizing committee on Tuesday night.
In it, Ainslie wrote that at least eight people approached him with concerns about “the Mayor’s state” that evening.
According to the Star story, Ainslie found Ford to be “somewhat incoherent” and told Ford’s chief of staff, Mark Towhey, it would be best if he left the gala.
"No one asked the mayor to leave and no one asked me to ask the mayor to leave," he said.
Ford has vigorously denied the charges, saying the report is an “outright lie” by a newspaper he claims has an axe to grind with him.
“It's the Toronto Star going after me again and again and again," he said at a tense press conference on Tuesday.
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In March, former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson accused Rob Ford of grabbing her behind while at an event. She later suggested the mayor was so out of it that she wondered if he was on cocaine. Ford has denied the accusations.
In November of 2012, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ordered Rob Ford to be removed from office for violating Toronto's Conflict-of-Interest Act. The ruling stemmed from Ford's participation in a council vote to recommend he repay donations that he solicited for his private football foundation using official city letterhead. After weeks of uncertainty about who would replace Ford, the mayor won his appeal, allowing him to remain in power.
Ford's role as coach of a high school football team has repeatedly landed him in hot water. From a city bus used to ferry the team home after a reported brawl, to missed council meetings and court appearances, Ford's gridiron exploits have made headlines again and again. Despite the controversy, Ford has maintained that he's not giving up his other job to focus on running the city.
On a trade mission to Chicago, Ford infamously confused Winnipeg and Windsor, a verbal stumble that prompted chuckles on both sides of the border.
A video clip of Ford falling while attempting to throw a football at a Grey Cup event was quickly turned into GIF image that went viral.
In October of 2012, a photo hit the web of Ford reading while driving. The mayor admitted to doing it, but refused to hire a driver, despite pleas from the police and political allies. The incident was far from the first Fordian fail on the road. The mayor has also been accused of giving a motorist the finger while driving and has admitted that he pleaded guilty to refusing to provide a breath sample after driving under the influence of alcohol in Florida.
A photo hit the web in September of 2012 of Ford posing with a neo-Nazi dressed in a foreign military uniform. Ford explained that he was unaware of the man's political beliefs. At least one major Jewish group said it was satisfied the mayor meant no harm.
For several months in 2012, Ford took part in a very public weight-loss campaign. Weigh-ins staged before the press meant the mayor had nowhere to hide, and after some initial success, he actually started putting on pounds. Ford admitted to giving up soon after.
Ford called the police in May of 2012 and alleged that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale trespassed on his property. Dale denied the allegations and said Ford approached him with a raised fist. Ford would subsequently refuse to speak with reporters from the Star or to co-operate with the paper in any way.
Ford has twice bucked tradition and refused to attend Toronto's Pride parade, prompting widespread criticism.
Late in 2011, Ford called the police after Marg Delahunty (Mary Walsh) and the crew of CBC's satirical show "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" showed up at his home. While other politicians have reacted with laughter when approached by Delahunty, Ford said the "ambush" at his family home crossed the line.
Yet, two other councillors, Joe Mihevc and Sarah Doucette, have also expressed concerns about the mayor’s alleged drinking.
Mihevc, a left-leaning politician who has clashed with the mayor in the past, appeared on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday and said Ford’s full denial of the story was “not accurate.”
Mihevc said he has seen Ford in situations where he is “not fully there,” and suggested he should seek help.
“It is up to the mayor to come clean and to figure out what he needs to do to pull his life together,” he said.
Doucette, also a left-leaning councillor, told The Toronto Star that Ford’s alleged alcoholism has been an open secret at City Hall for some time.
“We didn’t want to go to the news with this because we would’ve been accused of being lefties picking on the mayor,” she told the paper. “But in some respects, I wish this had gotten out earlier, because if he needs help, please do it now.”
While the salacious story has been the talk of Toronto and beyond, not everyone is pleased with The Toronto Star.
"Mostly, to be perfectly honest, on an ordinary human level, I feel badly for Mr. Ford,” she wrote. “If he has an alcohol problem, how dreadful to see it splashed across the front page; if he hasn’t, how does he demonstrate it?”