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politics

Reaction Roundup: Rob Ford’s Leave of Absence

Mayoral candidates respond to news of another crack video, more inappropriate comments, and Ford's decision to take time away.

This morning, Rob Ford filed written notice of a personal leave of absence. His decision to take time away from his mayoral duties and re-election campaign was spurred by new allegations of drug use and inappropriate behaviour that emerged last night in three Toronto newspapers: the Toronto Sun released an audio recording of Mayor Ford making racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and lewd comments while intoxicated; the Globe reported on the existence of a second alleged crack video, this one filmed Saturday in Kathy Ford’s basement; and the Toronto Star revealed that Ford recently enjoyed a rowdy evening at Muzik nightclub that involved a dispute with none other than Justin Bieber.

Some of his rivals in the mayoral election were quick to respond to these latest developments. John Tory released a statement last night in which he argued a leave of absence is not sufficient:

“Like Torontonians across the city, I am deeply disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford’s behaviour. For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign.”

David Soknacki’s statement was even more to the point:

“Rob Ford is not just a bad mayor. He is also a disgrace. Toronto can’t wait until October 27th. It is time for Rob Ford to resign, immediately.”

Sarah Thomson, too, called on the mayor to step down, though she also suggested the media should give him some space:

“It is the time for the media to leave Mr. Ford and his family alone. Mr. Ford has challenges to deal with both emotionally and physically.

The Olivia Chow camp did not release an official comment last night, saying, “An announcement of Mr Ford’s nature deserves a considered response, and we will not prematurely speculate.” But today, Chow addressed the latest developments in the scandal:

“He chose to ignore calls to get help last year. The appropriate time to take a leave was then. The appropriate course now is for voters to choose a new mayor on October 27.”

She did not insist the mayor step down, instead stressing that it would be up to voters to render a verdict in the coming election.

Karen Stintz, who was the target of lewd comments from Ford in the recording obtained by the Sun, did not immediately respond to the revelations. Yesterday, her team sent out a statement indicating that “the comments released tonight by Mayor Rob Ford are deeply offensive to everyone living in Toronto” and “that a sitting mayor would make such shocking and bigoted remarks is disgusting”—it also called for “a full apology from Rob Ford, not only to Karen, but to all in this great city who expect more from their mayor.”

Today, Stintz addressed the media and spoke of her “shock and disappointment”:

“There is no place in this city for sexism or homophobia, especially in the mayor’s office.”

Like Chow, though, Stintz stopped short of calling for the mayor’s resignation.

UPDATE: May 1, 2014, 10:40 AM This post has been updated with information about more recent statements from Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz.

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