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politics

Ford Apologizes for “Graphic Remarks,” Then Pushes Through Crowd of Reporters

A few minutes ago the mayor convened a press conference to address his remarks from this morning.

The full text of his statement:

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to apologize for my graphic remarks this morning.

Yesterday, I mentioned, was the second worst day of my life except for the death of my father. The past six months I have been under tremendous, tremendous stress. The stress is largely of my own making.

I have apologized and I have tried to move forward. This has proven to be almost impossible. The revelations yesterday of cocaine, escorts, and prostitution, has pushed me over the line, and I used unforgivable language—and again, I apologize.

These allegations are 100% lies.

When you attack my integrity as a father and as a husband, I see red. Today I acted on complete impulse in my remarks. I fully realize in the past I have drank alcohol in excess. I wish you to know I am receiving support from a team of health care professionals. I am taking accountability and receiving advice from people with expertise. I do not wish to comment on the particulars of the support.

I wish you to understand I am accepting responsibility for the challenges I face. I would ask you please, please respect my family’s privacy.

Thank you very much.

He took no questions and his wife Renata, who stood next to him for the statement, didn’t say anything at all. Immediately after they returned to the mayor’s private office.

When Rob Ford holds press conferences he generally does so in his protocol office—a sort of exterior lounge just outside that private office. It is small and cramped, and his appearances there—as opposed to the many larger spaces available in City Hall—are almost certainly designed to make reporters look like an angry horde. (Previously, press conferences were most often held in the members’ lounge in the council chamber, a wide space with rows of chairs, and often mic stands where reporters could line up to ask questions.) The space is small enough that cameras and people are crammed more tightly than commuters on a rush hour subway, and the impression this creates is that the mayor is being held hostage by the press gallery.

It is also a safety hazard.

A few moments after making his remarks the mayor emerged from his office again, without notice. The room was still jammed with reporters—we hadn’t had time to exit—and photographers hadn’t had a chance to even pack their gear. Staff accompanying him got physical, pushing at least one cameraman out of the way as the mayor tried to leave. You can see a quick video of the scene above, shot by CBC reporter Steven D’Souza.

The mayor’s office has a rear exit, and he could have avoided reporters entirely by leaving through it. (He has often done just that when he didn’t wish to answer questions.) Nobody was immediately able to tell us why he didn’t do so today.

Dave Nickle is the president of the City Hall press gallery, and like most City Hall reporters was in the room as this happened. “This was extraordinarily disturbing. There were members of the media who were pushed, there’s evidence of one being physically struck—it appears by the mayor’s driver and body guard. There’s video, we have to compile that. Right now I’m looking to speak to security to just get a sense of what action they’re going to be taking in the light of all this.” He isn’t sure what a formal complaints process might look like (“This is new territory,” he said) but will be investigating further.

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