News / Americas

Toronto Mayor Says 'I'm Sorry' Again

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks at a news conference with his wife Renata (L) at City Hall, Nov. 14, 2013.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks at a news conference with his wife Renata (L) at City Hall, Nov. 14, 2013.
Reuters
Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, under huge pressure to quit after he admitted smoking crack cocaine, said on Thursday he was getting help for a drinking problem, but offered no indication that he might step down.

Ford also expressed remorse for an obscene outburst he made earlier in the day when denying an allegation he had made sexual overtures to a female member of his staff.

“I want to apologize for my graphic remarks this morning,” Ford said in the latest of a string of apologies, his wife,  Renata, standing silently at his side. “For the past six months I have been under tremendous, tremendous stress.”

He added “I fully realize in the past I have drank alcohol in excess. I wish you to know that I'm receiving support from a team of healthcare professionals.”

Pressure started building on Ford this spring, when reporters with the Toronto Star and U.S. media blog Gawker said they had seen a cellphone video that appeared to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine.

Ford spent months denying he used crack, but admitted this month he had done so “in one of my drunken stupors,” and apologized. He conceded on Wednesday that he had also bought illegal drugs, and again apologized for his mistakes. On Thursday, he admitted he had driven after drinking alcohol.

The Toronto city council - which does not have the power to fire Ford - on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to urge him to take time off and deal with his personal problems. He says he will not quit.

Hurting Toronto

Ford's refusal to step down even temporarily has infuriated officials who say his antics are harming the reputation of North America's fourth largest city.

“People want civility, people want respect and we are not seeing that ... This is a train wreck and has been for six months,” said councilor Jane Robinson.

City councilor and former Ford supporter Denzil Minnan-Wong told Reuters “He has to step aside. He's crossed a line and he's past the point of no return.”

The province of Ontario could, in theory, step in to unravel Toronto's municipal mess, but Premier Kathleen Wynne on Thursday made clear she would only intervene if the city asked for help, and if her minority government had support from other parties.

“The things we are seeing and hearing about Mayor Rob Ford are truly disturbing,” she said in a televised statement.

Polls initially suggested Ford's support was holding up despite the scandal. But an Ipsos-Reid survey released on Thursday found 62 percent of those surveyed would not vote for him, and the polling firm said he stood no chance against his potential rivals if an election took place now.

Police documents released on Wednesday quoted Ford associates who alleged the mayor had driven drunk, used racially abusive language, threatened staff, consorted with a woman suspected of being a prostitute and made obscene sexual suggestions to the female member of his staff.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and Ford, describing them as “100 percent lies,” named three former aides that he planned to sue.

“I've never had a prostitute here. I'm happily married at home ... it makes me sick how people are saying this,” he said,

“So, unfortunately, I have no other choice ... I can't put up with it any more, so I've named the names, litigation will be starting shortly. I've had enough,” he said.

Will run again

Ford, who was elected on a tax-cutting platform in 2010 and insists he will run again in October 2014, also said he would sue a waiter at a restaurant who told police he thought the mayor had been snorting lines of cocaine.

Ford, ousted from his voluntary position coaching a high school football team after the first cocaine allegations, made his lewd remarks on Thursday while wearing a jersey of the Toronto Argonauts Canadian football team, which said it was very disappointed by his actions.

“We hope for the benefit of the wonderful citizens of Toronto and this great city that this situation is resolved expeditiously,” the club said in a statement.

Not everything went badly for the mayor. The right-leaning Sun News Network television channel said it would be offering Ford and his brother Doug - also a city councilor - their own show.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Right to Die: Colombian Man Ends Life with Government Backup

After heated public debate and last-minute legal challenges, 79-year-old becomes first Colombian to die as result of government-sanctioned euthanasia
More

3 Mexican Journalists Assassinated in Week

Rights groups call on Mexican authorities to thoroughly investigate recent murders in Oaxaca, Veracruz and Guanajuato
More

Ecuador Is Prime Example at Heart of Pope's Climate Stance

Pope Francis begins his South America tour this weekend in country that is prime example of tensions between politics, business and environment
More

Experts: US-Cuba Moves Likely to Deepen N Korea’s Isolation

Korea University professor sees US-Cuba normalization as 'quite an ideological eye-opener' for Pyongyang, a longtime Havana ally
More

Pope to Tour 3 South American Countries

Grueling, week-long trip will showcase Francis at his unpredictable best: speaking his native Spanish on his home turf about issues closest to his heart
More

Congress Aims to Keep Bans on Dealing with Cuban Military

Proposed legislation would ban Americans from engaging in any financial transactions with the Cuban military or the Cuban Ministry of the Interior
More