Decision reportedly follows new recordings featuring the mayor allegedly smoking crack cocaine and making inappropriate remarks and acting out at an Etobicoke bar.
Rob Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, has confirmed to the Canadian Press that the mayor is taking a leave of absence from his re-election campaign to get help for substance abuse issues after new videos and audio recordings have emerged featuring the mayor saying racist and misogynist remarks, smoking crack, and a report that the mayor got upset with Justin Bieber at a nighclub after the pop star joked if Ford had crack on him.
The story first broke when the Toronto Sun reported that the paper “obtained a new raunchy audio recording of Ford ranting and swearing in an Etobicoke bar” on Monday night. Among the targets of his comments were fellow mayoral contender Karen Stintz and Ford’s wife, Renata.
The audio was recorded at Sullie Gorman’s, a pub by his mother’s house in Royal York Plaza, located across the street from a park named for his late father. Ford is recorded saying he’d “like to fucking jam [Karen Stintz].” In an interview with the Sun, Ford said he wouldn’t use that terminology, would like the audio to be verified, and added that he was joking.
Through a spokesperson, the Stintz campaign released a statement on the audio:
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…. In addition to seeking help, we hope for a full apology from Rob Ford, not only to Karen, but to all in this great city who expect more from their mayor.
The mayor also used the term “dago” in the recording, an ethnic slur for an individual from Italy, Spain, or Portugal. He also criticized Conservative leader Tim Hudak for supporting the pride flag, adding he might vote for the Green Party instead. In a tweet, Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner responded with, “Dear Rob, thanks, but no thanks. Greens are working to end sexism and homophobia.”
After this, the Globe and Mail reported that two reporters saw three new video clips of the mayor allegedly smoking crack cocaine. The footage was reportedly taken early Saturday morning at 1:15 a.m. and it appears as though Rob’s sister Kathy Ford, who has an admitted history with drug use, and Sandro Lisi, who has drug-related convictions, also appear in the footage. The video clips are being shopped to various media outlets for “at least six figures.” Stills from the videos also appear on Gawker.
The Toronto Star then published a separate story, detailing Ford’s relationship with Muzik nightclub, where Ford had a run-in with Bieber in March. The pop star joked about Ford’s crack use when the mayor went to shake his hand, and quickly went back to his private booth. With party hostesses and people he just met at Nathan Phillips Square, the mayor allegedly partied until 5 a.m. The report also claims that Ford was in the washroom for 45 minutes, vomited, appeared impaired, and returned to drink some more. According to the Star, witnesses claim Ford said that his “wife and children do not like him” and “he is in over his head.”
The Star reports that on a night in April an unidentified person says Ford was doing lines of cocaine. The report goes on to detail Ford’s special relationship with the owner of Muzik, who recently lobbied to shut down a rival dance party and provided booze for the past two Ford Fests. In the report, owner Zlatko Starkovski is quoted as telling staff, “Rob Ford is our best customer. His money is no good here.”
Ford’s decision to go to rehab comes only comes on the heels of these reports, with his lawyer Dennis Morris saying the mayor needs time off to “freshen up.” Ford released a statement saying, “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.”
Over the past year, Ford has repeatedly denied or downplayed suggestions he has a substance abuse problem and reportedly rejected help when people encouraged him to enter rehab.
People from across the political spectrum urged Ford to resign immediately, from John Tory and David Soknacki to Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s). For now, Ford’s name will remain on the ballot. There is no word on when he will return to campaigning.
Wow! Good for him, if it's true. Wish he'd done it sooner. Life would have been a lot easier for so many. So much opportunity squandered.
— Mark Towhey (@towhey) May 1, 2014
Anything less than a resignation at this point is too little, too late. #TOpoli
— Jaye Robinson (@JayeRobinson) May 1, 2014
Ford might rehabilitate his health but 30 days isn't going to cure his racism, misogyny, homophobia & chronic tendencies to break the law.
— Kristyn Wong-Tam 黃慧文 (@kristynwongtam) May 1, 2014