Rob Ford left his Etobicoke home early Thursday morning, reportedly bound for rehab. He was accompanied by his nephew, who carried his luggage into his car.
Global News was the first to report Ford had left Toronto for Chicago on a private plane.
In a statement released by the mayor on Wednesday night, he said "this is one of the most difficult times in my life.
"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence... I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right."
The new video, obtained by The Globe and Mail, was secretly recorded Saturday in his sister Kathy’s basement. The clip reportedly shows Ford holding a pipe and taking a hit of an unknown substance.
In the audio recording described by the Toronto Sun as “raunchy”, Ford was caught on tape making off-colour comments about Councillor Karen Stintz: “I’d like to f**king jam her, but she doesn’t want … I can’t talk like this … I’m so sorry.”
In the mayor’s absence Thursday morning, mayoral rivals and family members weighed in on the latest news.
Karen Stintz called the comments “gross” in a press conference Thursday morning.
“I am disappointed by the misogynistic language used by Mayor Ford there is no place in this city for sexism or homophobia especially in the mayor's office,” she said.
Frontrunner candidate Olivia Chow said she was angry when she learned the latest Ford news.
“I was particularly angered by his offensive comments about women. This time, about Councillor Karen Stintz,” she said.
“It’s clear Mr. Ford is sick. He has serious substance abuse problems. I am sure everyone in our city joins me in extending hopes for him as a person to recover from this sickness.”
Meanwhile, Ford’s brother and advocate-in-chief Doug Ford held an emotional press conference where he said his brother is seeking professional help.
“As an older brother I am relieved that Rob has faced his problems and has decided to seek professional help,” Ford said. “This is not an easy thing for anyone to do, especially when you are the mayor.”
“He told me the hardest thing about this is knowing he let people down,” Ford said. “He let his family down, he let his friends down, he let his colleagues down, he let his supporters down and he let the people of Toronto down.”
Ford family matriarch Diane Ford had few words for the media when approached by reporters in the parking lot of a strip mall.
"I had no idea it was as serious as it was. But he doesn't live with me so I don't know what he does every minute of every day."
Late Wednesday, The Toronto Star published a story detailing the mayor's recent behaviour at Muzik, an exclusive Toronto club also frequented by Justin Bieber.
The Star report included interviews with eyewitnesses who said they had seen Ford doing lines of cocaine earlier this month. During another night out at Muzik in March, Ford had an exchange with Justin Bieber in a common area of the club. Bieber asked Ford jokingly if he had any crack, The Star reports. The mayor became angry and was ushered back to his party booth.
The Globe and Mail and Gawker both reported they were recently approached by a man claiming to have a video of Rob Ford smoking crack. Gawker reported that the man wanted six figures for the video. The website declined to pay.
The man did supply still images from the video to Gawker and The Globe. The Globe did not buy the video either but did pay $10,000 for the photos.
"The Globe felt it was a matter of public interest, and that readers needed to see what our reporters watched and reported on," editor in chief David Walmsley wrote in an editor's blog.
The audio recording obtained by the Toronto Sun was reportedly made on Monday night at Sullie Gorman's, an Etobicoke bar near the home of Ford's mother.
The mayor told The Toronto Sun that while he was at Sullie Gorman's that night, he doesn't remember saying any of the things on the recording. He said he wouldn't use the word "jam," saying "that's not my terminology".
“I am appalled (at what I said). I’d like to verify this (audio) first. Of course, I’m just joking around. Clearly, that’s what I mean," he said in an interview with the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington.
The audio can be heard here:
Stintz commented on the remarks in the audio clip, saying, “The comments released tonight by Mayor Rob Ford are deeply offensive to everyone living in Toronto. That a sitting mayor would make such shocking and bigoted remarks is disgusting."
Ford, who made the admission about his leave of absence to the Toronto Sun on Wednesday, is reportedly ready to “deal with his issues,” according to the newspaper.
Read Ford's full statement below:
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR ROB FORD
For Immediate Release
April 30th, 2014
Tonight I want to take some time to speak from my heart to the people of Toronto. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life. I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time.
Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help.
I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.
I love the people of Toronto, I love being your mayor and I hope you will continue to stand by me.
With the support of my family, friends, professionals and the people of Toronto, I will conquer this.
Please keep me and my family in your prayers during these difficult days ahead.
I just want to say to the people of Toronto that I thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement. I cannot tell you enough how much I appreciate it.
Mayor Rob Ford
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