TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is ignoring calls from even his dwindling group of staunch supporters to step aside in the wake of an admission he has smoked crack cocaine during his time in office.
There has long been no love lost between the conservative mayor and left-leaning councillors during the first three years of his tenure at the helm of Canada's largest city.
But a day after Ford finally addressed more than five months of speculation head on, saying he had tried crack cocaine, likely in "one of my drunken stupors," councillors from right to left appeared united in their desire to see the mayor take time to get help.
When the Toronto Star and U.S. website Gawker first reported in May that a video showed the mayor allegedly smoking crack, Ford denied the reports and his closest allies at city hall stood by him.
But now that Ford has admitted to the drug use and police have announced they have the video, those allies are joining politicians of all stripes in urging him to take a break and get help.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly was tight-lipped about his meetings with the mayor over the past few days, but on Wednesday said he thought it was important to let the public know where he stood.
"I'm inviting him today, as I have previously, to take a pause with all its advantages, because it's the one option that looks after all of the issues that are on the table right now," Kelly told television station CP24.
"He could protect his family, himself, health-wise, his political career and the vitality of his administration if he took a pause and regrouped and re-entered the fray later this year or early next year."
Ford is not following that advice, vowing in a contrite but defiant news conference hours after his surprise admission to stay on as mayor and run for re-election next year.
Ontario Opposition Leader Tim Hudak said Wednesday that if Ford called him for advice he would tell him to put his family first and get healthy.
"If I were in that situation and it meant taking some time to do so, I would take that time," said the Progressive Conservative Leader.
Fervent city hall ally Coun. Frances Nunziata said Wednesday that she and fellow supporters are urging him to take a leave of absence.
"I was hoping he would listen to us, as strong supporters," Nunziata said. "It frustrates me but there's nothing we can do. He's the only one that can make the decision on his own."
Right-leaning Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti stopped short of expressing full confidence in the mayor's ability to fulfil his mayoral duties.
"In light of the recent drug use admission from the mayor I must stress that there is no need to enter into a state of panic at city hall or across Toronto," he wrote in a statement.
"We have a very capable deputy mayor and dedicated councillors to carry forward with the fiscally responsible agenda we were elected to implement."
Mammoliti's statement went on to warn of a "left-wing coup."
Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor's forced removal from office unless he's convicted and jailed for a criminal offence and the province has said it has no plans to amend the law.
"Obviously these are troubling allegations and the city has tools at its disposal should they choose to use them," said Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey.
"We have no plans to step in. There's an ongoing investigation."
The ongoing nature of the case is what is troubling some at city hall. As news of the mayor's confession, and refusal to step aside, made headlines around the world, some city councillors expressed skepticism at Ford's claim that he has "nothing left to hide."
Denzil Minnan-Wong, who plans to table a non-binding motion asking Ford to take a temporary leave of absence, said he's "concerned" about the possibility city hall hasn't seen the end of revelations about the mayor.
"I don't know what it is, but there's more information that will likely come out," he said. "I'm troubled by that, that it will create further controversy and hurt this city even further."
Karen Stintz, who has said she will run for mayor next year, predicted more information could be revealed, but said she hoped for the city's sake that this was the end of it.
"What I do know is there is more information that could be revealed," she told a large crowd of reporters gathered outside Ford's office.
"I don't know what that information is, again, we'll find out more as the days unfold and I certainly hope for the city's sake that we've seen the end of this."
There are several ways in which more, possibly damaging, information about the mayor could emerge.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Ian Nordheimer is expected to make a decision early next week on whether remaining portions of a document that revealed Ford's ties and covert meetings with an alleged drug dealer can be released.
The police document was partially released last week as part of a pending drug case against Ford's friend Alexander Lisi. It revealed that the target of the investigation was Ford and the video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.
It's alleged the video "relates" to a home believed to be a "crack house" and police believe a notorious photo of Ford was also taken outside the home. The photo shows Ford posing with Anthony Smith, who was later shot and killed, and two alleged gang members who were subsequently charged as part of Project Traveller, a drugs and weapons investigation.
Media outlets have been arguing in court for access to a Project Traveller document similar to what was released in the Lisi case.
A ruling Tuesday from Nordheimer, who is also hearing that case, clears the way for media lawyers to argue for the release of wiretap information.
Police have said it was as part of Project Traveller that they came across a video of Ford consistent with media reports about him appearing to smoke crack cocaine.
That video is going to form part of a second court case for Lisi, who police have charged with extortion for alleged attempts to retrieve the video.
But police have also said they seized two videos during the Project Traveller investigation, though they remain tight lipped about the contents of the second file.
A lawyer for one of the men in the notorious photo with Ford says he's going to court on Friday seeking copies of both videos.
Mohammad Khattak's lawyer, Daniel Brown, argues the video files are "relevant disclosure" that may assist Khattak in defending himself on the charges he faces.
Brown said if Ford "truly wishes to see himself on that video," he can join the application.
_ With files from Paola Loriggio.
<strong>"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But do I? Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago."</strong> -- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media at City Hall in Toronto, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 after his admission of smoking crack cocaine
<strong>"With today's announcement, I know I embarrassed everyone in this city and I will be forever sorry. There is only one person to blame for this and that is myself. I know admitting my mistake was the right thing to do and I feel like a thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders."</strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses the media at City Hall in Toronto, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Ford says he loves his job and will stay on as mayor of Toronto despite admitting for the first time that he smoked crack. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)</em>
<strong>"Again, I sincerely, sincerely, sincerely apologize."</strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford composes himself as he addresses the media at City Hall in Toronto, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. Ford says he loves his job and will stay on as mayor of Toronto despite admitting for the first time that he smoked crack. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)</em>
<strong>"I'm not an alcoholic, I'm not a drug addict."</strong> -- Ford denies he has a substance abuse problem following the confirmation of the existence of a video in which he appears to be smoking from a crack pipe. <em>FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2013 file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford tells to the media to get off his property as he leaves his home in Toronto. The embattled mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 said he smoked crack "probably a year ago" during a "drunken stupor." (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette, File)</em>
<strong>"That was pure stupidity. I shouldn't have got hammered down at the Danforth. If you're going to have a couple drinks you stay home, and that's it. You don't make a public spectacle of yourself." </strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks on his weekly radio show in Toronto, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Mark Blinch)</em>
<strong>"I think everyone has seen these allegations against me today. I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately, I can't, because it's before the courts and that's all I can say right now... I have no reason to resign." </strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford addresses media outside his office in Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Ford says he has no reason to step down despite police confirmation that they have seized a video that appears to show him smoking a crack pipe.(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)</em>
<strong>“We’re on the right track. I’ve taken the city, which was literally on the cliff, and brought it back, and people are very happy... The people I talk to are very happy with the way we’re running the city.”</strong> -- Ford says <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2013/10/25/mayor_rob_ford_says_he_rescued_toronto_from_the_cliff.html" target="_blank">he's set Toronto back on course</a> in an interview with Newstalk 1010 radio host Jerry Agar on Oct. 25, 2013 <em>Canadian recording artist Drake, left, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford laugh at a news conference announcing that Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star game, in Toronto, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)</em>
<strong>"We’re bringing accountability to City Hall. <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2013/05/26/rob_ford_there_is_no_video_reporters_are_a_bunch_of_maggots.html" target="_blank">First time ever</a>.”</strong> -- Ford on his radio show, May 2013 <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford answers questions about the three new staffers he has hired at a news conference at city hall in Toronto on Friday, May 31, 2013. Ford, the burly populist who refers to his conservative supporters as "Ford Nation," has transfixed North Americans since published accounts surfaced of a video that apparently shows him puffing from a glass crack pipe. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu)</em>
<strong>“Bunch of maggots… Sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”</strong> -- Ford blasts journalists on his weekly radio show on May 25, 2013 <em>FILE -- In this Oct. 27, 2010, file photo, then newly elected Toronto mayor Rob Ford speaks on-air at Talk Radio AM 640 with host John Oakley in Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette, File)</em>
<strong>“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.”</strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reads a statement to the media at City Hall on Friday, May 24, 2013 in Toronto. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/05/rob-ford-crack-cocaine-denial_n_4221068.html?utm_hp_ref=canada" target="_blank">Ford denied that he smokes crack cocaine and says he is not an addict after a video purported to show him using the drug</a>. Ford did not say whether he has ever used the drug. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)</em>
<strong>“I have about $50,000 worth of football equipment in there. I’m donating that equipment. I’m not taking the equipment. Some crazy people are saying stuff. You know what? They can have all the equipment. I just want them to play football and win the championship.”</strong> -- Ford clarifies his desire for the <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/09/09/don_bosco_gives_donated_football_equipment_back_to_rob_ford.html" target="_blank">Don Bosco football team to keep the equipment he supplied while coaching the team on his radio show on May 26, 2013</a>
<strong>(Sometimes Ford doesn't say anything at all)</strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sits during a City council meeting at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday May 21, 2013. Ford ignored a crush of reporters waiting outside his city hall office this morning in the hopes he would address allegations that he was recorded on video appearing to smoke crack cocaine. (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS,Nathan Denette)</em>
<strong>"I work hard,.. Just call me. I return your call and go to your front door to serve you."</strong> -- Ford on his work habits after a CBC audit of his parking habits <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/05/rob-ford-parking_n_3018957.html" target="_blank">called into question his workload</a> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford emerges from his office holding slices of a birthday cake to offer to members of the media at city hall in Toronto on Tuesday May 28, 2013. The mayor was celebrating his 44th birthday. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)</em>
<strong>“It will be good.”</strong> -- Ford following the approval of a Hero Burger joint outside Toronto's City Hall, April 2013 <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses for photographs inside a giant shark mouth while attending the grand opening of the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013. </em>
<strong>“Well, call me. Call me at home -- 233-6934, 416-233-6934 – and [I’ll or we’ll] go for a coffee, and explain how politics works. You have to be over the age of 18, a Canadian citizen, and live in Toronto. And the rest is up to you, how hard you want to work.”</strong> -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/22/rob-ford-women-politics-females-coffee_n_3132802.html" target="_blank">Ford puts a call out to Canadian women</a>, whom he says are underrepresented in politics, on his radio show in April, 2013 <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his home on Friday, May 17, 2013, after published reports said a video appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)</em>
<strong>"I'm try[ing] to catch up on my work and you know I keep my eyes on the road, but I'm a busy man." </strong>-- Ford makes an admission after a Twitter pic showed the mayor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/08/14/rob-ford-reading-driving-car-gardiner_n_1776183.html" target="_blank">reading a document while driving</a> in August 2012 <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford gets in his vehicle after appearing in court in Toronto, Monday, Jan.7, 2013. Ford is back in court to appeal a ruling that ordered him out of office. (AP Photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS,Frank Gunn)</em>
<strong>“This comes down to left-wing politics. The left wing wants me out of here and they’ll do anything in their power. I’m going to fight tooth and nail to hold on to my job,” </strong> <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford talks to media at city hall in Toronto, Monday, Nov.26, 2012. A judge has found Ford guilty of conflict of interest and has ordered him removed from office. (AP PHOTO/ THE CANADIAN PRESS, Nathan Denette)</em>
<strong>“It’s hard to hide 300 pounds of fun.” – Ford replies when asked if he had been purposely avoiding the media on Feb. 17, 2011. </strong> <em>Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford, left, takes on professional wrestler Hulk Hogan in an arm-wrestling match to promote Fan Expo in Toronto on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 . (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)</em>
<strong>“We've been in Huntsville for the past 30 (years), as long as I can remember, since I've been a little boy... I'm carrying on a tradition my father had, last year I was there during the campaign, we’re there every year.”</strong> -- Ford explains why he will not be attending Toronto's 2011 LGBTQ Pride parade, for which he came under fire from Torontonians inside and out of the community <em>FILE - In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 file photo, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford whistles as he walks to a meeting at city hall in Toronto. Ford, the burly populist who refers to his conservative supporters as "Ford Nation," has transfixed North Americans since published accounts surfaced of a video that apparently shows him puffing from a glass crack pipe. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette, File)</em>
<strong>“We’re going to put an end to the gravy train.”</strong> -- Ford's famous line said during his victory speech on Oct. 25, 2010.
<strong>“Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That’s why they’re successful in life. I went to Seoul, South Korea, I went to Taipei, Taiwan. I went to Tokyo, Japan. That’s why these people are so hard workers (sic). I’m telling you, the Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over.”</strong> -- Ford makes comments about Asians during a holiday shopping debate in March 2008. He later apologizes for using the term 'Oriental' and says he meant that Asians were hard workers
<strong>"I want to be mayor, I want to be premier and<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/05/rob-ford-prime-minister_n_4221267.html?utm_hp_ref=robford" target="_blank"> I want to be prime minister</a>." </strong> -- Ford in a 2006 interview for Rogers TV
<strong>"What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later, you're going to get bitten. And every year we have dozens of people that get hit by cars or trucks. Well, no wonder. Roads are built for buses, cars and trucks. Not for people on bikes. And my heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day." </strong> -- Ford airs his views on bikes at a city council meeting in March 2007 <em>Toronto Mayor Rob Ford answers questions about the three new staffers he has hired at a news conference at city hall in Toronto on Friday, May 31, 2013. Ford, the burly populist who refers to his conservative supporters as "Ford Nation," has transfixed North Americans since published accounts surfaced of a video that apparently shows him puffing from a glass crack pipe. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Michelle Siu)</em>